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Ageless wonder: Former CU Buffs guard Marcus Hall eyes Las Vegas jackpot

Hall in finals of Tracy McGrady-led $250K one-on-one tourney

Former Colorado guard Marcus Hall, right, is in the finals of the Ones Basketball League.  (Ones Basketball League/Courtesy photo”
Former Colorado guard Marcus Hall, right, is in the finals of the Ones Basketball League. (Ones Basketball League/Courtesy photo”

Marcus Hall plans to keep playing basketball until his body no longer allows him to fly up and down the court.

Yet this past winter, fatherhood did something Father Time has been unable to accomplish by keeping Hall at home.

The former Colorado basketball standout has made quite a living playing professionally overseas for the better part of the past 14 years, most notably in Turkey. Hall had opportunities to keep that streak going this past season in Israel, but with two daughters at home these days, both under two years old, Hall decided it was time for a brief time out.

“I had two teams in Israel that tried to get me to come finish the playoffs,” Hall said. “I just stayed at home and tried to get the home off the ground. But I will go back overseas next year.”

Though happy at home, Hall certainly hasn’t completely hung up his basketball shoes. Next week, Hall will compete in the championship round of the Ones Basketball League in Las Vegas (July 15-16). The tournament — a one-on-one, winter-take-all competition with $250,000 at stake — is the creation of basketball Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady.

Hall advanced to the championship field by finishing second at a regional tournament in Los Angeles last month. The former Buffaloes guard has been staying in game shape while enjoying fatherhood in Houston, but adjusting to the one-on-one format has been an eye-opener for a player who typically is tasked with running an offense.

“It’s a different kind of basketball,” Hall said. “Even when you’re playing ones (at practice), there’s a dead ball after every shot. You just kind of check it up and go again. But in this instance, if you miss, the guy can go rebound it, clear the ball, and get a shot up. And you’re talking about the level of pros, seven out of 10 free shots are going in. So you’ve got to chase to get back on defense. If he misses, you’re chasing to get his ball and get a decent shot. Not only does the skill and the talent play out, but what really shocked me was the conditioning of it. Playing two or three of those games with the adrenaline going, it’s like playing a full game.”

Hall is no stranger to winner-take-all formats. In 2016, Hall was part of the Team Colorado alumni team that reached the championship game of the $2 million The Basketball Tournament, only to watch a 20-point first half lead dissolve into a gut-wrenching defeat. With Team Colorado on hiatus, Hall joined Team 23 for TBT last season and again reached the title game. This time, Hall’s club took a four-point lead into the fourth quarter but fell short of the jackpot in a two-point loss to Boeheim’s Army, a squad featuring former Syracuse players.

Hall, who turns 37 next month, is the oldest former CU player still playing professionally. Hall was a freshman in the 2003-04 season when future NBA player Chris Copeland was a sophomore, and Copeland has not played professionally in about four years. An injury pushed Hall’s senior season to 2007-08, CU’s first year under Jeff Bzdelik, and he remains a fixture in CU’s record book.

Hall still ranks fifth all-time in assists (423), 26th in scoring (1,178), eighth in 3-pointers attempted (430) and eighth in made 3-pointers (152).

“I love it and I still really enjoy playing basketball,” Hall said. “At this age, part of the process is keeping the body going. I’ve just got to invest in that, making sure that my body can play with these young guys. But it’s also been pleasing to give back to these younger guys. And I’m able to do that because I’m still able to attack them on the court.

“Because I’m able to physically play and go at these guys, I’m able to give some feedback and be constructive with how I’m playing the game, how I’m teaching the game. It’s still my happy place.”