SHAWNEE, OKLA. — The leaders of the Potawatomi Fire will represent the team in the 2023 TBL All-Star Game. Deshawn Munson, Chuck Guy and head coach Mark Dannhoff will travel to Pennsylvania to play for Team Grant, a combination of players from teams in the Midwest and Central Conferences. The Fire, fresh off two wins this weekend over Shreveport and Wichita that moved Potawatomi back into first place in the Central Conference, are the only TBL team out of 49 clubs with two players named to the TBL All-Star Game.
This is the second straight All-Star appearance for Deshawn Munson, the 2022 TBL Most Valuable Player. Munson continues his stellar play from a season ago, averaging 19.8 points, 12.9 rebounds (3rd in TBL), 7.7 assists (5th in TBL), and 1.2 steals through nine games this season. The 6-4 guard already set the Fire record with 22 rebounds versus Rockwall on March 5. Though “Mr. Triple-Double’ just recorded his first triple-double of 2023 on Friday after a dozen during his MVP season, the Fire haven’t needed them due to their wealth of options. During his MVP season in ’22, Munson earned First Team All-TBL, and First Team All-Central Conference and was the only player in TBL to average 25 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists per game.
Chuck Guy has not missed a beat with his new Fire team in 2023, ranking second behind Munson on the Fire with 16.4 points. Guy also averages a TBL-best 9.0 assists and 3.4 steals (5th in TBL) while also grabbing 5.2 rebounds per game. This is more of the same outstanding play that Guy displayed in 2022, when he earned First Team All-TBL, First Team TBL All-Central Conference, and was a finalist for TBL MVP and Defensive Player of the Year for the Enid Outlaws. The 6-0 guard averaged 21 points, 9.4 assists, and 2.7 steals while helping Enid to a regular season championship.
Fire head coach Mark Dannhoff was hired last summer to lead Potawatomi. He’s already led the Fire to eight wins and first place to open the 2023 season and helped establish them as a marquee team and top contender in the TBL. In his first season as a professional coach, Dannhoff guided the Enid Outlaws to a regular season Central Conference Championship and a first-round bye in the TBL Playoffs with a 20-4 win–loss record (83% winning percentage). The Outlaws advanced to the Central Conference Finals only to fall short in the third game of the best-of-three series. Finishing the season 23-6 (79% winning percentage). Prior to joining the professional ranks, Dannhoff had 30-plus years of basketball experience under his wing. He has been an assistant on eight Division I collegiate coaching staffs, including Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Georgia State, and Tulane. Ironically, Dannhoff will coach in the All-Star Game against the man he replaced as Fire head coach, Derrick Rowland. Rowland returned to Albany to again coach the Patroons and will coach Team Blake (East-West Conference All-Stars).
Dannhoff was grateful for the all-star honor but pointed to his players when asked about the honor on Sunday. “Well, first of all, we all appreciate the kind words,” Dannhoff said. “But I’m just really pleased for Chuck and Deshawn to get this opportunity next weekend. But you know when you have two all-stars, two First Team All-TBL guards, they did (and continue to do) what they were supposed to do. They stepped up their game. They got everybody else to raise their game to the highest level to get the outcome that they wanted.”
The teams of the TBL will break for the 2023 TBL All-Star Weekend April 7-8 in Easton, Pa., in the Lehigh Valley region. The All-Star rosters will be split into two teams. Team Blake is a combination of the East & West Conferences. Team Grant is a combination of the Midwest & Central Conferences. Blake Gabou is the 11-year-old CEO of JRTBL, while Grant Gabou is the 8-year-old president of JRTBL. The Gabou brothers are the grandsons of Evelyn and David Magley, the heads and owners of TBL as the CEO and President. The All-Star Game will be played at 4:30 p.m. Central time. In addition to the All-Star Game, TBL All-Star Weekend will have a Three-Point Contest, Dunk Contest, Celebrity Game, and JRTBL free clinic. The weekend will be hosted by the TBL’s Lehigh Valley Legends on the campus of Lafayette College. Fans can view all of the All-Star action on TBLTV.tv.
ABOUT THE FIRE AND THE BASKETBALL LEAGUE
The Potawatomi Fire concluded their first TBL (The Basketball League) season in June 2022, winning 21 of 29 games played including the playoffs. They were 18-6 in the regular season to earn the third seed in the Central Conference portion of the playoffs. They won their first round playoff series before falling in the conference semifinal round. The Fire are the first professional basketball team owned by a Native American tribe (Citizen Potawatomi Nation) in Oklahoma. The Fire compete in the Central Conference of TBL, a men’s professional basketball league, now with nearly 50 teams in over 20 different states across the U.S. and Canada. The Fire organization was named the 2022 winner of the Jim Koch Award as TBL’s Best Ran Business, despite the Fire being a first year franchise. The dance team of the Fire, the Fire Girls, were named Best Dance Team.
The TBL season begins in February and runs through June, concluding with a championship playoff tournament. The players that make up the rosters of the TBL teams are former NCAA (Division I, II or III) or NAIA athletes. Many have played in the NBA or NBA’s developmental G-League as well as professionally overseas for several years and are continuing their careers closer to home or seeking a larger contract in another professional league.
Story by Justin Wollard • Photos by Landon Kidney