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Tampa Bay Pro Combine presents opportunity for small college players to showcase skills

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — The Tampa Bay Pro Combine, a popular basketball invitational event, is branching out for its first regional pro combine event in North Central West Virginia.

The Appalachian Regional Pro Combine is a two-day pro-combine invitational for more than 20 players to showcase their talent to professional executives.

The ARPC will be the first of its kind under the TBPC umbrella. Friday is a skills development day, with former Mountaineer guard J.D. Collins leading the participants through drills at The Bridge Sports Complex in Bridgeport. Friday’s exercises will be similar to what people see at the NBA Combine, recording athletes’ vertical jump, shuttle speed and different agility tests.

Saturday will serve as an opportunity for live-action 5-on-5 full-court games for further evaluation inside Fairmont State’s Joe Retton Arena.

“My whole idea for the pro combine is that I started in West Virginia because I went to Fairmont State,” said Darryl Hepburn, Tampa Bay Pro Combine founder. “Coming from a small school, getting visibility and exposure for a Division II, Division III, or NAIA player is hard. My whole idea was to allow smaller college guys to play their way into a position to be an alternate at the end of the summer at the Tampa Bay Pro Combine.”

Hepburn mentioned there would be athletes from various schools, including BYU and Kansas State. He also recalled that the Mountain East Conference (MEC) and Pennsylvania School’s Athletic Conference (PSAC), both of Division II, will be well-represented.

“I think this can last for a long time in West Virginia,” Hepburn noted. “There is a lot of great basketball in this region in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. There is also good basketball in the small colleges and great players at those colleges.”

Collins and Hepburn have worked closely with the Tampa Bay Pro Combine since its first year in 2021. However, the relationship between the two originated following Hepburn’s collegiate career with the Falcons.

While Hepburn played basketball overseas, Collins became a consistent asset for John Beilein’s early teams at West Virginia. 

The two former players eventually played a few months professionally together in Vermont and for the Bakersfield Jam in California.

“His work ethic rubbed off on me,” Hepburn stated. “J.D. was more of a worker than I was, and this was during my first few years of being a pro. J.D. taught me work ethic, even though I had a couple of years on him. He is one of my best friends. We have the same passion for genuinely helping guys and not feeling like it’s work.”

Beilein serves as the senior advisor for player development for the Detroit Pistons in the NBA and will be coordinating a coaches clinic before the all-star game on Saturday at Fairmont State University.

“J.D. asked if I would come in a do a little clinic for the workout people to show what is important and what people are looking for in the NBA,” Beilein said. “These young men are coming in to show what they have to agents to improve. It is hard to say no to J.D. Collins. He was a warrior for us, and I am happy to help.”

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