The Washington Wizards' Bradley Beal dribbles upcourt against the Brooklyn Nets. (Photo courtesy NBA Photos)
Basketball is returning to Virginia Commonwealth University earlier than usual this year. From Tuesday to Saturday (Sept. 27 to Oct. 1), the NBA’s Washington Wizards will be preparing for their 2016-2017 season at VCU's Stuart C. Siegel Center. But if fans want to see the players in action, they will have to clear their schedules from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 30, when the Siegel Center opens its doors to fans for the team’s only watchable practice of the week.
Holding only one open training camp session is the Wizards' policy, which makes NBA fan and VCU graduate student Jeremy Teller say he thinks the visit is bittersweet. He does, however, say he understands why the policy is necessary. “They already have to be surrounded by screaming fans two or three times a week during the season,” Teller says.
This will not be the first time the Wizards have come to VCU for their training camp. The team practiced there from 2003 to 2009 and even held a pre-season game against the Memphis Grizzlies at the Siegel Center. Since then, the team has held its annual week of practice at several locations in the Washington, D.C., area, conducting camp at Towson University in Baltimore and its home court, the Verizon Center, last year.
“[After 2009], we decided to move camp to George Mason University since we operate the facility there,” Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld says. “It allowed us to stay closer to home and utilize the relationship we already had with the Eagle Bank Arena.”
Originally, the team planned to hold camp this season at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, but the agreement fell through because of security complications, according to Comcast Sports Net. After that, Grunfeld says the relationship between the Wizards and VCU made it easy for the team to return to Richmond.
“When we started looking for a location to hold our training camp, it was a natural fit,” Grunfeld says. “We’ve always enjoyed our camps there in the past and we’re looking forward to heading back down again.”
A full list of the Wizards’ Siegel Center practice times can be found at vcuathletics.com.