Semi-pro basketball is now in Madison. The Madison Mavericks are in their second season, playing in the North Central Division of the Official Basketball Association. There are over 50 teams in the organization across the country.
The team plays 16 games in the regular season, many of them straight. Home games are played at Madison College, where many Mavericks have connections.
One of those links is Roy Boone. He has been involved with Madison College for a long time. In 2016, he joined the men’s basketball coaching staff. In just two years with the WolfPack, he held an associate head coaching position.
His love for basketball is lifelong and his connection to Madison runs deep. Boone graduated from East High School as a star player. After two years of Division I junior college basketball, he returned to Wisconsin to represent the Badgers. While there, the team qualified for the Final Four and he was named to the Big Ten All Conference team. His playing days did not end, as Boone continued to play professionally in the United States and outside.
The idea for the Mavericks came from Tamara Moore. Moore is a former Badger and WNBA player. She now coaches at Mesabi Range College in Minnesota as the only female head coach of a men’s program.
The idea excited Boone, so he joined as owner.
“I just wanted to keep creating it and keep building it and I loved that,” he said.
But the owner is not his only role. Boone does a bit of everything.
“It’s a role with many hats, so I’m a slash owner slash driver slash everything,” Boone said.
Even though playing is one of his roles, he’s starting to spend more time off the pitch than on it.
“We’ve got new players, so we’ve got some good talent, so I’m going to sit down and watch these guys, see what they’re up to,” Boone said. “I think things are developing, so now I’m doing more things behind the scenes on the business side.”
Season one home games were played at Warner Park, primarily due to COVID-19 restrictions. But it has always been Boone’s vision to host the Madison College team, calling it the “mecca of basketball.”
Having the games in college puts the school in the spotlight, which Boone finds important.
“It’s possible to bring more kids here to see the school and maybe they want to watch programs or maybe they now know Madison College exists,” Boone said. He added that it was important for him to keep a connection with the Madison east side.
Plus, it makes high-level basketball more accessible to the community. While there’s a lot of high-profile basketball in Wisconsin with the Badgers and Bucks, there’s something special about the Mavericks.
“It brings another program that kids could come to who may not be able to attend the Bucks game or the Badger game, but love the atmosphere and the safe environment and being around professional athletes,” Boone said. .
One way to make the team more accessible is for kids 17 and under to participate in the games for free. And there are fun halftime events for the kids too. Sometimes it will be youth or AAU teams playing, or it will be a type of skills competition. Boone says that’s great, especially since some kids really look up to the Mavericks guys.
And one of those team members has ties to the WolfPack.
Stavon Staples, a Mavericks guard, represented Madison College in 2016-17. He played during Boone’s first season as a college coach.
Staples said he would take every opportunity to play basketball for as long as possible, and joining the Mavericks gave him that.
“He was always like one of the guys that I always knew I wanted to be a part of, you know, and that happened, that was all Madison College was,” Boone said of the Staples’ involvement with the Mavericks.
And Staples sees the impact of the Maverick on the community. Children he has never seen recognize him in public. But he sees the impact even closer and more personal.
“My son, for example, I asked him if he wanted to play for the Lakers. He said no, he wants to play for the Mavericks,” Staples said, adding that it gives kids something to look up to.
The team isn’t just providing opportunities for players to continue doing what they love, Staples says that’s something the city needed.
“It gives, you know, local people something nice to watch or something to do…and there’s a pretty good buzz around town, so I think it’s great for the area,” said said Staples.
Both Boone and Staples have similar goals for this season: getting back to the championships. The team was successful in their inaugural season, falling in the national semi-finals.
Staples has personal goals like making the all-star team again, but his goal is to “In the end, get a ring for the town team.”
The team is in action at the school on April 23, May 7, May 14, June 4, June 11 and June 25. Saturday matches start at 5 p.m. and Sunday starts at 4 p.m. Admission is $10.