The Iowa State team appears to have a home court advantage in Milwaukee with four Wisconsin natives on the Cyclones’ squad.
Of the four of the players from Wisconsin, three are from Milwaukee, and friends and family were thrilled for the spot. But it was the players who were worried about their Milwaukee return.
There were hugs and handshakes for family as Iowa State took to the court for practice at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. They play tomorrow night in the first round of the NCAA tournament in the Midwest Region. But the three players from Milwaukee were worried.
"I didn't want to play here because of distractions," said Donovan Jackson, a guard for Iowa State.
"I'm really not trying to be around my family or nothing like that cause I'm locked in on a bigger goal," said Darrell Bowie, a forward for Iowa State.
"It feels a little bit of everything, kinda scared, kinda happy, kinda nervous," said Deonte Burton, a guard for Iowa State.
Burton used to play for Marquette University. He left there when his mom died of breast cancer. He said he was ready to give up the game, but Burton instead went to Iowa State and started over. He is back in Milwaukee for the first time to play basketball, sitting in his old locker in a different jersey.
"I kept playing and found my love for the game again," Burton said.
His fans are proud by what he overcame.
"I'm inspired by him," said Donald McHenry, 13, a fan and friend of the family.
That also includes his brother who knows how hard this first game back in Milwaukee will be for Burton.
"I told him just relax and have fun and let the chips fall where they may," said Charles Grafton who was watching his brother shoot during practice.
The strong ties to Milwaukee don't end there. Bowie's cousin has worked security at the Bradley Center for seven years. Thursday night he will be at his post and cheering on his cousin.
"I'm just so proud of him," said Kenneth Green.
So are all the Milwaukee fans. They all are predicting a win against Nevada Thursday night.
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