MAUI, Hawaii – UCLA will join a field of eight talented basketball programs in the Championship Round of the 2015 EA SPORTS Maui Invitational, it was announced Monday.
The 2015 field, joining Chaminade at the Lahaina Civic Center, will include UCLA, Indiana, Kansas, St. John’s, UNLV, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest. The Championship Round will take place Nov. 23-25, 2015 on the beautiful island of Maui.
UCLA last participated in the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational in Nov. 2011. Previously, the Bruins won the tournament title in Nov. 2006.
The group of Championship Round participants includes four of the top 10 most successful programs in NCAA Division I history – Kansas, St. John’s, UCLA and Indiana. Led by the Bruins’ record 11 NCAA Championships, the seven Division I schools have combined to win 19 NCAA titles and have made 47 total trips to the NCAA Final Four.
The eight-team field also had tremendous success as of late. The group had 44 former players begin the 2013-14 season on NBA rosters. Both Kansas and Indiana were No. 1 seeds in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, and all seven NCAA Division I programs have earned at least one NCAA Tournament bid since 2010.
Since the inception of the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational in 1984, 99 schools representing 23 conferences and 40 states have competed in the event. Schools that have participated in the tournament in November have finished their seasons with 104 NCAA Tournament appearances, 36 trips to the Sweet 16, 18 Final Fours and eight national championships.
About the 2015 Championship Round Teams
Among the most successful programs in college basketball history, UCLA has played in 45 NCAA Tournaments and 18 Final Fours, winning more national championships (11) than any other school. The Bruins are the eighth winningest program in Division I history, having earned seven NCAA Tournament appearances in the past nine years and advancing to three consecutive NCAA Final Fours from 2006-08. Last year’s squad won 25 games and enters this week ranked No. 19 in the AP poll. Head coach Steve Alford begins his tenure at UCLA this fall after compiling a 155-52 record over six years at New Mexico. Alford coached Iowa to the championship game of the 2004 EA SPORTS Maui Invitational. The Franklin, Ind. native played collegiately at Indiana, a team he could face in the 2015 Tournament. Alford finished his collegiate career as Indiana’s all-time leading scorer (now ranks second to Calbert Cheaney). The Bruins will make their fifth Tournament appearance in 2015 and first since 2011. They are 7-6 overall in the Tournament and won the 2006 EA SPORTS Maui Invitational behind Tournament MVP Darren Collison.
The Hoosiers are the 10th winningest program in NCAA history and entered 2013-14 coming off two straight trips to the Sweet 16. Last year, they earned a No. 1 seed in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. During the 2012-13 campaign, Indiana spent 10 weeks as the No. 1-ranked team in the country and won the Big Ten regular season title. Head coach Tom Crean will return for his fourth EA SPORTS Maui Invitational. He previously led Indiana to a 1-2 mark in the 2008 Tournament and Marquette to a runner-up finish in the 2007 Tournament. Crean served as an assistant coach for Michigan State at the 1995 Tournament. This will mark Indiana’s sixth appearance in Maui and first since 2008. The Hoosiers are 9-6 overall in the Tournament and won the 2002 EA SPORTS Maui Invitational as Bracey Wright was named Tournament MVP.
The Jayhawks return to Maui for the sixth time, and first since its runner-up finish at the 2011 EA SPORTS Maui Invitational. Kansas is the second-winningest Division I program all-time and the winningest since 1990. The program has won nine consecutive Big 12 regular-season championships, has the longest active NCAA Tournament streak in the country (24 years) and entered the 2013-14 season ranked No. 5 in the Associated Press poll. Kansas capped off the 2012-13 campaign with a No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and its third straight Sweet Sixteen appearance. This will mark the fourth trip to Maui for head coach Bill Self, who has taken two teams to the championship game of the Tournament – Kansas in 2011 and Illinois in 2000. The Jayhawks are 10-6 overall in the Tournament and won the 1996 EA SPORTS Maui Invitational, when Raef LaFrentz earned Tournament MVP honors.
The seventh winningest program in Division I history, 2015 will mark the Red Storm’s first trip to the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational. The storied program has made 27 NCAA Tournament appearances, has played in two Final Fours, and has produced 13 AP All-Americans. The Red Storm are led by Steve Lavin, who is currently in his fourth season as the program’s head coach. Lavin led St. John’s to a No. 6 seed in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, his first season as head coach. The Queens, N.Y. native spent seven years as the head coach at UCLA, whom the Red Storm could meet in Maui. Lavin led the Bruins to a 2-1 record in the 2001 Tournament and was an assistant on the 1995 UCLA team that traveled to the islands. St. John’s was picked to finish the 2013-14 campaign in the top half of the Big East standings and freshman Rysheed Jordan was named preseason BIG EAST Rookie of the Year.
The Runnin’ Rebels will make their third appearance in the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational and first since 2000. UNLV has earned 20 bids to the NCAA Tournament and played in four Final Fours, including 1990 when they were crowned national champions. Recently, the Runnin’ Rebels have made four straight NCAA Tournament appearances including six of the past seven years. Led by head coach Dave Rice, the Runnin’ Rebels have won 25-plus games in each of his two seasons at the helm and earned a No. 5 and No. 6 seed in the past two NCAA Tournaments. A longtime assistant at UNLV, Rice was on the staff when the Runnin’ Rebels made their last appearance in the Tournament in 2000. UNLV is 3-3 overall at the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational.
The 2015 EA SPORTS Maui Invitational will mark Vanderbilt’s fifth trip to the Tournament, its first appearance since 2009. The Commodores have been very successful recently, earning three straight NCAA Tournament bids from 2010 to 2012 and winning the SEC Tournament in 2012 by handing eventual-national champion Kentucky just their second loss of the season. Head coach Kevin Stallings has led the Commodores to the postseason in eight of the past 10 seasons. The 2013-14 campaign will mark Stallings’ 15th as head coach. The Collinsville, Ill. native was at the helm when the Commodores won two games at the 2009 EA SPORTS Maui Invitational. Vanderbilt is 8-4 overall and won the 1986 Tournament behind a stellar MVP performance by Will Perdue.
The Demon Deacons will make their first appearance in the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational. The program has earned 22 NCAA Tournament bids all-time and seven in the past 13 years. Wake Forest earned back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2009 and 2010 and won 20-plus games each season. The Demon Deacons enter the 2013-14 season with 11 sophomores on their roster – players who are projected to be in their final year of eligibility in 2015. Head coach Jeff Bzdelik led Colorado in the 2009 EA SPORTS Maui Invitational and spent 16 years in the NBA as a scout, assistant coach and head coach. As head coach of the Denver Nuggets, he helped lead a 26-game turnaround and earn a playoff berth in 2004.
The Silverswords have hosted the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational and participated every year since its inception in 1984. Over the past 30 years, Chaminade has won seven games in the Tournament, upsetting the likes of Texas, Oklahoma and Villanova. The Silverswords won 19 games in 2012-13 and advanced to the PacWest Championship Game. They also earned a bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament, competing in the West Regional for the fifth time in school history. The 2013-14 campaign will be Eric Bovaird’s third as head coach. Chaminade’s best finish in the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational came in 1984 when they finished as the runner-up. Two Silverswords have won Tournament MVP honors – Patrick Langlois in 1984 and George Gilmore in 1991. Gilmore’s 93 points over three games is still the Tournament record for most points scored in the Championship Round.