Ex-Massillon, Kent State product serving as head coach and general manager for team looking to win $2 million event.

Michael Porrini is well aware of the level of basketball talent in the Mid-American Conference. What the former Massillon and Kent State product wants to do is let the rest of the country learn that, too.

That's why Porrini is once again joining forces with several other former MAC players on a team in this month's The Basketball Tournament. The team, called Mid American Unity, will open play on July 19 at Capital University in Columbus against Kohl Blooded, comprised of former University of Wisconsin players.

"When I was thinking about the Mid-American Conference, we have a lot of big-time guys who have played at this level and higher levels and continue to play there," Porrini said Monday from Florida, where he's an assistant coach at Polk State College. "You may just not hear about them because they're not in the NBA. That doesn't mean they don't exist. Now I have to go find those guys that can compete together and we all become that one."

This is the fourth time Porrini has been part of a team in the TBT, a 64-team, single-elimination tournament in which the winner claims $2 million. It's the sixth year for the tournament, which has all of its games broadcast on an ESPN platform. Overseas Elite has won the last four TBT titles, with GlenOak grad Errick McCollum as one of its key players.

In previous years, Porrini has been among the former MAC players competing in the tournament. This year, however, he has shifted his entire focus toward being the team's general manager and head coach.

It's a shift, but not a huge one. In the three previous experiences, he was a player as well, but this is the first time he has just served as a team's head coach and general manager.

"It's a new day and age now," Porrini said. "Us players, we know what to expect and what we would like as a player. We've been there. I would love to still be able to roll the ball out and compete every day, but I'm still in a better position now that I get to give back everything I've learned and give it to the youth and my other friends and peers."

The team includes some recognizable names to area high school and college basketball fans. Former LeBron James St. Vincent-St. Mary teammates Dru Joyce III and Romeo Travis join other ex-University of Akron players Nick Harney and Demetrius Treadwell on the team.

Former Timken High and Bowling Green guard Jehvon Clarke is another area player on the roster, as is Walsh University graduate Jesse Hardin Jr. Porrini's alma mater, Kent State, will be represented by Khaliq Spicer and Jay Youngblood.

D.J. Cooper and Reginald Keely, members of Ohio University's 2012 Sweet 16 team, also are on the roster. Kyle Randall gives Central Michigan a representative.

"We all have to take bits and pieces of what we have going and put it into one cause and that's who our one is," Porrini said. "We have guys like D.J. Cooper and Dru Joyce and Romeo Travis who have big-time names in Europe and the United States that can play at any level. ... All of these guys have something that they're bringing to the table, and it's very, very exciting."

The team is slated to open up its training camp Friday. According to Porrini, they will practice at multiple places around Northeast Ohio, including Kent State, Akron, St. Vincent-St. Mary and in the Massillon/Canton area.

There will be, Porrini said, a chance for the team to have a couple of open practices for fans to come out and see the team. That fan interest is something which TBT organizers believe is important as it chooses which teams make the field.

Many of the teams involved are comprised of alumni from big-time colleges such as Ohio State (Carmen's Crew), Kentucky (Bluegrass Boys), Kansas (Self Made), Syracuse (Boeheim's Army), Marquette (Golden Eagles) and Wisconsin (Kohl Blooded). That's why Porrini felt it was important to get players from all over the MAC.

"You have to find a story behind you," Porrini said. "Why is your story special enough for you to get in? Then you have to go and get the social media presence to be able to show them that you do have the following that does want to see you play. Then you have to get the right team together so that folks think that they're capable of winning."

That team, Porrini believes, is the one he's helped put together. Now, it's all about proving the MAC's talents on a national stage once again.

Reach Chris at 330-775-1128 or chris.easterling@indeonline.com.

On Twitter: @ceasterlingINDE