TBT 2021 is right around the corner, so we’re taking a look at some of the best players who will compete in the $1 million event.
It can be tough to keep track of everything that’s going on with all the teams, especially because they don’t play together during the year. To spread the love, we’ve gone through each of the 64 teams in TBT 2021 and selected the best players you should watch from each squad to educate fans on what they’re about to see.
So, let’s take a look at one ballers to watch on each TBT 2021 team to introduce you to some of the best players in the event.
TBT Best Players 2021: One Player to Watch on Each Team
1 Eberlein Drive
This team is absolutely loaded, so there’s definitely more than one player to watch on the squad. But, if I’m forced to pick only one, I’m going with Marquis Teague. The Kentucky product was a one-and-done stud in college and played portions of four seasons in the NBA after being a first-round pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. He has the potential to be one of the best point guards in TBT 2021.
16 NG Saints (Neumann Goretti)
Made up of some of the best players who have ties to Neumann Goretti High School in Philadelphia, TBT 2021’s NG Saints sports former Syracuse standout Scoop Jardine. He’s a recognizable name, in part because of the uniqueness of his moniker, but will he be able to produce like he used to? NG Saints will need him to come up big if it’s going to make noise in TBT 2021.
8 The Enchantment (New Mexico Alumni)
It’s tough to pass up a guy named Pancake, but I’ll have to go with J.R. Giddens. At 36, he’s one of TBT 2021’s grizzled vets. He has played in some seriously big moments before: his college ball was played at Kansas and New Mexico from 2003 to 2008, he spent a few seasons in the NBA with mostly the Celtics, and his overseas career has been healthy for 10 years. Now, he’s the head coach of Northern New Mexico College women’s basketball. Can he add TBT standout to that list?
9 Stillwater Stars (Oklahoma State Alumni)
This squad has a mix of Oklahoma State alumni and some other invited talent, but keep your eyes on Markel Brown. He was one of the best scorers in the Big 12 during all four of his seasons in Stillwater from 2010 to 2014, and he’s built himself a nice overseas career since. Last season, he averaged 13.3 points per game and shot 42.1 percent from three for Hapoel Eilat in the Israeli Super League.
5 Florida TNT
Antonio Blakeney spent two years in the NBA after wrapping up his LSU. As a rookie in the NBA G-League in 2017-18, he averaged 32.0 points per game, which is the highest single-season scoring average in the league’s history. For the Jiangsu Dragons in China in 2019-10, he posted 34.8 points per contest. Blakeney can flat out score, and I’m excited to see him show his stuff in TBT 2021.
12 Kimchi Express
I want to see what Jordan Loveridge has to offer in TBT 2021. He was a consistent scorer for Utah during his four years from 2012 to 2016, and he’s found some success in Hungary, Switzerland, Poland, Austria, and Finland since leaving college. He’s someone I enjoyed watching in college, and I’d like to see where his game is now five years after exiting Salt Lake City.
4 L.A. Cheaters (Drew League)
There are a few players on this team I’m genuinely excited for, so it’s difficult to choose one, but I’ll go with Derrick Williams. The former Arizona star was selected No. 2 in the 2011 NBA Draft and played seven seasons in the league. He’s been overseas since 2018 and made noise in China, Germany, Turkey, and Spain. This will be his first TBT experience, and I want to see what he can do.
13 Mental Toughness (JCK Foundation)
Not too many 2021 TBT teams have someone who played in the Final Four, but Mental Toughness does. Marques Townes was an important part of the 2017-18 Loyola-Chicago squad that went all the way to the national semifinals of the NCAA Tournament. He was also named the 2019 Missouri Valley Tournament MVP. It’ll be fun to see him back in action on American soil after spending most of the his post-grad time playing in Europe.
6 Team Arkansas (Arkansas Alumni)
Jaylen Barford is one of the best players in TBT history, but this time, he’s representing his alma mater Arkansas. In 2019, Barford was instrumental to the Jackson TN UnderDawgs getting to the quarterfinals, averaging 24.0 points per game and getting the nod as an All-TBT guard in the process. I’m excited to see if he can do as well on a new team in the same event.
11 Fort Worth Funk (TCU Alumni)
A lot of the same players who won the 2017 NIT title at TCU are on this team. There are some non-alums on the squad who have me excited, but I have to go with former Horned Frog Alex Robinson. He was an assist machine in college, averaging 6.3 dimes per game in his three seasons in Fort Worth from 2016 to 2019. He earned All-Big 12 honors his senior year and has been continuing his basketball career in Austria. I want to see if his vision is still as good and if his hands are still as quick as they were in college.
3 Team Challenge ALS
One of the regulars in TBT, Team Challenge ALS has a pretty ridiculous backcourt for 2021. Having to choose just one of them is tough, but I’m going with Justin Dentmon. He was a force in TBT 2020 for Men of Mackey, putting up 22.5 points per outing, and he has some serious professional experience – stints with four NBA teams, six years of NBA G-League play, and time in 12 different countries as a pro baller. The 35-year-old will surely be hungry to win his portion of $1 million.
14 We Are D3
You probably haven’t heard of most or any of the players on this team, but I can guarantee you they don’t mind that – they’re ready to introduce themselves at TBT 2021. But one player you may know is DeVaughn Rucker. The WashU product was an all-UAA player in college and has since moved to England to play ball and pursue his master’s degree. But he’s back in the United States for TBT 2021, and knowing Mark Edwards and the type of player he produced at WashU, Rucker should be a good time to witness on the court.
7 Purple & Black (Kansas State Alumni)
The Kansas State alumni team is back for the first time since 2019, and so too is the team’s big man, Thomas Gipson. Gipson played for K-State from 2011 to 2015, putting up 11.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a senior. He’s since played in Finland, Mexico, France, Ukraine, Turkey, and Argentina. I’m excited to see him play again because of how much I enjoyed his game in college – he’s not overly tall for a power forward at only 6-foot-7, but he makes up for it with his footwork and positioning. Is he still the not-so-gentle giant he once was? I’d like to find out.
10 Omaha Blue Crew (Creighton Alumni)
This is the Creighton alumni team, but the player to watch never played for the Bluejays. Admon Gilder spent his college days at Texas A&M and Gonzaga, but sometimes TBT throws us curveballs. Gilder was a good producer in College Station and helped take the Aggies to the Sweet 16 in 2016 and 2018, but he took a step into a larger spotlight when he transferred to the Zags. In the 2019-20 season, Gilder was an integral part of the Gonzaga team that would have been a serious contender for the 2020 national championship had the tournament been played. This is our opportunity to see Gilder again, and I’m looking forward to it.
2 Aftershocks (Wichita State Alumni)
Markis McDuffie is the name to watch on the hosts of the region. McDuffie played for Wichita State from 2015 to 2019 and earned the reputation of a scorer. As a senior, he averaged 18.2 points per game and was an All-AAC player. He’s since played in Hungary and Italy, and now he’s back in America for TBT as one of Aftershocks best players to win his share of $1 million.
15 Ex-Pats (Patriot League Alumni)
The Ex-Pats boast the 2017-18 Patriot League Player of the Year, Zach Thomas, who averaged 20.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game while shooting 40 percent from three and 46.2 percent from the field that season. He did have some issues with turnovers, but he also had a very high usage rate of 27.9 percent for his college career. I’m curious to see how much his game has matured since graduating and playing overseas in Belgium and Poland.
West Virginia Region
1 Sideline Cancer
Sideline Cancer was one of the great stories of TBT 2020 and is bringing back the core of the team that went to last year’s Cinderella run to the championship game. There are multiple players to watch on this roster, but I have to mention Marcus Keene. He was absolutely electrifying last summer and is one of the best and most exciting players heading into TBT 2021. If there’s a player who better encapsulates what TBT is all about, please point him out to me.
16 Founding Fathers (James Madison Alumni)
The player I’m most curious to see on this team is Yancy Gates, who did not attend James Madison. The big man played at Cincinnati, where he became well-known for the Crossroad Shootout scrap. But he was much more than that – he scored in double figures in all four of his Cincinnati seasons from 2008 to 2012, was productive on the glass, and was an effective rim protector. Since college, Gates has put together a lengthy overseas career, with stints in Lithuania, Puerto Rico, Israel, China, Germany, France, Mexico, Poland, and Turkey. He’s also appeared in multiple past TBTs for different teams. Let’s see what he can do with some JMU alums.
8 PrimeTime Players
The talent at TBT has been steadily improving over the years, and now it’s not weird to see guys who spent years in the NBA compete at the event. Trevor Booker was a first-round pick in 2010 and played 532 games in the NBA from 2010 to 2018 for a number of teams. He announced his retirement from basketball in 2020, but he began playing again this year for PrimeTime Players. I want to see what the 33-year-old has to offer at this point in his career.
9 Fort Wayne Champs
The Fort Wayne Champs are one of the oldest competitors in TBT, but it’s been a minute since the team was near the top of the heap. They’re hoping things turn around in 2021, and Christian James should be a big part of any success. James was one of Oklahoma’s top ballers during his upperclassman years, was an All-Big 12 player as a senior in 2018-19, has been playing in Italy since, and figures to be one of Fort Wayne Champs’ best players in TBT 2021
5 War Ready (Auburn Alumni)
Auburn went on its best NCAA Tournament run ever in 2019, and a good amount of the talent that took the Tigers to the Final Four are on this alumni team. Bryce Brown has me most excited, though. He was part of the backcourt tandem that was instrumental in Auburn’s 2018-19 season, and he’s capable of completely taking over a game. For example, on Dec. 8, 2019, he scored 43 points and went 11-of-11 from beyond the arc in one of the greatest offensive performances in NBA G-League history. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could do something like that again in this tournament.
12 Bucketneers (ETSU Alumni)
Who doesn’t like dunks? A.J. Merriweather is a high flyer, and we could see some fireworks from him in TBT 2021. The ETSU player from 2013 to 2017 was in the 2017 College Basketball Dunk Contest, the 2019 Puma Hoops Dunk Contest, and played with the Harlem Globetrotters for four years before leaving them to focus on TBT. That should catch your attention.
4 Armored Athlete
A member of the TBT old guard, if it were, Armored Athlete is back for its seventh appearance in The Basketball Tournament. Its roster is usually better good, and in 2021, it features some good players, but Tariq Owens is the name that jumps out at me. Known in particular for his time at Texas Tech and his role in the Red Raiders reaching the 2019 NCAA Championship Game, Owens is capable of playing well above the rim offensively and defensively. His athleticism is insane, and I’m pumped to see what he can do in TBT 2021.
Howard’s Charles Williams broke the MEAC scoring record in February 2020, posting the 2,276th point of his career early in a game against North Carolina A&T. He averaged better than 15 points per game in all four of his collegiate seasons and put up more than 20 points per contest as a sophomore in 2017-18. The point is, Williams is a scoring machine, and HBCUnited will need him to be exactly that in TBT 2021 sniff the $1 million prize.
6 Team 23
Not many teams in TBT 2021 can say they have a player who won an NCAA DI national championship, but Team 23 can. Daniel Ochefu will bring his experience from claiming the 2016 national title with Villanova with him to TBT, as well as a brief NBA stint and overseas career with stops in Spain and Japan. He was a monster down low in college, controlling the rim defensively and on the glass. If he can successfully pull off the same role for Team 23, this squad could make a deep run.
11 Georgia Kingz
BCompeting in TBT for the first time, Georgia Kingz has a few names you’ll recognize on the roster. Jordan McRae is one with plenty of NBA experience, appearing in 123 games in the league from 2015 to 2020, averaging 6.9 points and 2.4 assists per game, including a collective double-digit scoring average in the 2019-20 season. Before he became a pro, McRae was a huge piece of some solid Tennessee teams, earning All-SEC honors twice in his career.
3 Herd That (Marshall Alumni)
The Elmore brothers are the backbone of the Herd That team for more reasons than pure on-court ability, but Jon Elmore is the true superstar. This will be his third TBT in a row, and he’s proven himself to be as capable a player in this tournament as he was in college at Marshall. As a four-year starter for the Thundering Herd, Elmore set career records at Marshall and in Conference-USA in scoring (2,638), assists (783), and made triples (356). He can fill the stat sheet up. Opposing teams will be on notice.
14 Team DRC
While at Kansas from 2008 to 2012, Tyshawn Taylor averaged 10.8 points and 3.9 assists per game and became one of the faces of the 2012 team that went to the national championship game. He then played 61 NBA games over two years before heading to the G-League and overseas, where he’s spent time in Puerto Rico, Russia, Venezuela, Israel, Turkey, Italy, and Vietnam. At this point, Taylor is a seasoned basketball vet, and I want to see what he can do with this 14th-seeded side.
Comprised of some of the best talent to come out of the NCAA Division II ranks, D2 aims to surprise those who don’t respect non-DI ball enough. Mike Davis Jr. brings a wealth of TBT experience with him, bringing out the best in himself for PrimeTime Players in 2018 and D2 in each of the last two summers. He’s averaged 12.7 points per contest in his three TBT games with D2, including a 17-point performance in a win over Bluegrass Boys in 2019. He was a scorer in college at Queens University, too, and has spent time overseas in Ireland and Georgia.
10 Bleed Virginia
In 2019, ShawnDre’ Jones scored 19.5 points per game at TBT, including a 23-point performance in the first round against Green Machine. In college at Richmond, Jones averaged 12.2 points and 2.8 assists per game for his career and was named 2015 A-10 Sixth Man of the Year and to the 2017 All-A-10 Third Team. He will assume the point guard role for Bleed Virginia again, and I want to see if he can take them even further than two years ago.
2 Best Virginia (West Virginia Alumni)
There are a bevy of West Virginia alums on this team you should look out for, but I think Kevin Jones is the one deserving a mention here. He was a machine for the Mountaineers from 2008 to 2012, averaging 13.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game for his college career. He’s played in the NBA briefly and has competed internationally in the Philippines, France, Serbia, Russia, Spain, and Japan since. He also did well in TBT 2019, averaging 18.5 points and 7.5 boards per contest and shooting 56 percent from the field in that tournament, including a 20-point night versus Overseas Elite, the reigning champs. Best Virginia will need the best Kevin Jones to be the best it can be.
15 WoCo Showtime (Wofford Alumni)
I’m between two players here, but I have to give the edge to Fletcher Magee, especially considering he’s now playing for the Wofford alumni team. Magee is one of the best shooters I’ve ever seen in college basketball, and he’s appropriately the NCAA’s all-time leader in made threes. His quick release, footwork, and uncanny ability to get a shot off no matter what are irresistible to watch. You’ll want to take advantage of every moment he’s on the floor.
1 Carmen’s Crew (Ohio State alumni)
This team is absolutely loaded, and it’s very difficult to pick just one player to watch out for. I’m torn among a few options, but I’ll have to go with Aaron Craft, if nothing else because of those rosy cheeks and charming smile. Craft will be one of the best defensive players in TBT 2021, and his offensive game isn’t as poor as some seem to believe. He won’t be Carmen’s Crew’s leading scorer, but his defense, passing, and general leadership abilities will be key to the team winning its second-ever TBT title.
16 Mid American Unity
One of the best players in Ohio history, DJ Cooper is back in TBT with Mid American Unity to take on old foe Carmen’s Crew and this time ideally come out on top. In college, Cooper was key to the Bobcats reaching two NCAA Tournaments, including the 2012 Sweet 16 run, is in the top 25 of the NCAA’s all-time assists list, and was named MAC Player of the Year in 2013. He’s won two French League Cups as a pro since and been wildly successful in Greece, too. He should pose a serious threat against Carmen’s Crew.
8 Men of Mackey (Purdue alumni)
There are a few players I can’t wait to see on this team, but I have to call out Robbie Hummel as the one to watch. It’s been a while since he was one of the best college players in the nation, but he’s coming to TBT in 2021! Lately, he’s become one of ESPN’s main voices in the broadcasting booth and studio, and now we get to see him compete for $1 million with other Boilermakers alums. Has he lost a step? Is he even savvier than before? Sign me up for this, please.
9 Ballinteers (Tennessee alumni)
While in college, Chris Lofton set the SEC record for most triples in a career with 431. He’s now 35 and has been out of college for more than a decade, but if he can find space on the perimeter and knock them down anything like he used to, he can be a very dangerous threat for Ballinteers. I’d thoroughly enjoy watching him splash opposing teams mercilessly.
5 The Money Team (TMT)
He’s a good player who is fun to watch, but there’s another reason why I’m picking Jarrod Jones here: he will face his former team, The Region, in the first round of TBT 2021. Jones was an important part of The Region in TBT 2019, but now he’ll suit up for TMT in 2021. The Ball State product is sixth all-time on the program’s scoring list and third on its rebounding ranking. He’s also had a long, successful overseas career is various countries. What can the 31-year-old do against his former TBT team?
12 The Region
The Region is yet to win a game in TBT in four tries, but if the fifth time is to be the charm, it might be because of the efforts from Donald Sloan. The guard played his college ball at Texas A&M from 2006 to 2010, then began a long professional career that has included 218 NBA games from 2011 to 2016 and international experience in China, Germany, and Australia. The 33-year-old brings a wealth of experience to The Region that it’ll need to navigate TBT 2021.
4 Team Hines
Team Hines, one of the more tenured TBT teams, is back in 2021, and it added Justin Burrell this time around. Burrell played for Overseas Elite from 2017 to 2020, but the former St. John’s standout has switched sides. After spending four years with the Red Storm until 2011, Burrell built himself a strong career in Japan. He’s been with Nagoya Diamond Dolphins since 2015 and averaged 13.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game last season.
13 Brown & White (St. Bonaventure alumni)
Dion Wright is not a new name to TBT, but he is a new name to Brown & White, the St. Bonaventure alumni squad. Wright has previously played for Ram Nation and Sideline Cancer, but he now brings that experience with him to his Bonnies teammates. Since averaging 16.7 points and 9.1 rebounds per night in 2015-16 as a senior at SBU, Wright has played professionally in Japan, Cyprus, and Ukraine. He should bring some good stability to this fresh TBT team.
6 Blue Collar U (Buffalo alumni)
I’m very excited for this team, which is made up of much of the talent that won multiple NCAA Tournament games in the late-2010s at Buffalo. I have to give the nod here to C.J. Massinburg, who was one of the best players on those star-studded Bulls teams and figures to be the same on this alumni TBT squad. He averaged 18.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.2 steals per game as a senior in 2018-19, plus shot 39.9 percent from beyond the arc and 54.1 percent from two-point land. I’m pumped to see him back on the floor with his old teammates who took Buffalo to some incredible heights.
11 The Nerd Team
Unless you’re a big Ivy League fan, you probably won’t know too many guys on this team. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t up for the challenge. Since playing college ball at Rochester from 2009 to 2013, John DiBartolomeo has built himself a strong pro career overseas. He spent some time in Spain before moving to Israel, where he has been now since 2015. Since 2017, DiBartolomeo has played for Maccabi Tel Aviv. In that time, he’s won four-straight Israeli championships with the club and become a key part of the squad.
3 Zip ‘Em Up (Xavier alumni)
Trevor Bluiett was a big-time scorer for Xavier in college, and Zip ‘Em Up hopes he can replicate that again in TBT 2021. He averaged better than 18 points per game as a junior and senior at Xavier, and he shot 41.7 percent from deep in his final season in 2017-18. Bluiett was a leader on the Musketeers squad that went on a surprising Elite Eight run in 2017. Since college, he’s been playing in the NBA G-League with some impressive performances mixed in. Can he score like he did in college for his alma mater’s alumni team?
14 Ohio 1804 (Ohio alumni)
Mid American Unity might have nabbed DJ Cooper, but Ohio 1804 got the other half of the backcourt duo that took the Bobcats to the Sweet 16 in 2012: Nick Kellogg. He’s known as the son of Clark Kellogg, but Nick is quite the player in his own right. He become a double-digit scorer by the time he left Athens in 2014 to begin a pro career that took him to Georgia, Poland, and France. He’s now a video coordinator for the Milwaukee Bucks, but he’s coming back to the hardwood as a player for TBT 2021.
7 Wolf Blood (NC State alumni)
There are a few players on this team I’m looking forward to, but I’m going with Ralston Turner. He spent the first half of his college career at LSU, then transferred NC State where he took a step forward. As a senior in 2014-15, Turner averaged 12.8 points per game and was important in the Wolfpack reaching the 2015 Sweet 16. After college, he’s played pro ball overseas in Georgia and back in America in the NBA G-League.
10 Category 5 (Miami alumni)
Davon Reed was one of Miami’s best players during his four-year career from 2013 to 2017, averaging 10.3 points and 3.6 rebounds per outing during his time as a Hurricane, and now figures to be one of the best on the TBT Miami alumni team. In his senior season, he led the team in scoring with 14.9 points per game and was honored with an All-ACC nod and spot on the conference’s All-Defensive Team. He played a couple years in the NBA, in the NBA G-League, and most recently in Taiwan for the Taoyuan Pilots. He can put points on the board, and Category 5 will need that out of him.
2 Red Scare (Dayton alumni)
There are so many players to watch on this Red Scare team, which has become a regular contender in TBT the last few years. This is a very difficult team to cut down to just one player, but I’ll pick Trey Landers. He was one of the premier players on one of the best Dayton teams ever in 2019-20, which unfortunately didn’t get to play for a national championship because of the pandemic. Instead, Landers got to play with his fellow Flyers alumni at TBT 2020 and led Red Scare in scoring and was second in rebounding. I expect the same youthful energy from him in 2021, and he should be one of the best players at TBT.
15 BC Vahakni City
Led by key members of the BC Vahakni City team that won the Armenia A-League championship last season, you probably aren’t aware of the players who populate this roster, unless you watch Armenia basketball, in which case you’ll know all about the best players on this TBT squad. The one to watch, though, is Darious Clark, the organizer of the team. Not only was he a huge part of the team’s championship, he also won Finals MVP and All-Star Game MVP last season. He now has his eyes set on the NBA, and a big showing at TBT 2021 could make a big difference in achieving his dream.
1 Golden Eagles (Marquette alumni)
There’s a lot to look forward to on this roster, which returns almost the entire team that won TBT 2020 last summer. Golden Eagles had many impressive performances a year ago, but Jamil Wilson might have been the best throughout the tournament. He averaged 17.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks in TBT 2020 and was one of the most lethal weapons in the entire event, offensively and defensively. I don’t know if he will be Golden Eagles top player in 2021 – this team is truly loaded – but if plays like he did in 2020, he should be one of the best players at TBT.
16 B1 Ballers
A team of assorted overseas professionals, the B1 Ballers probably won’t have a lot of names you’ll know, but a player to watch is Alani Moore. A big part of the Temple rotation from 2016 to 2020, Moore can distribute and light it up from deep, and he’s not shy about letting fire from beyond the arc. As a senior in 2019-20, his three-point attempt rate, which measures the percentage of field-goal attempts that are taken from three land, was .758. But with a 39.8 percent from three and a .521 effective field-goal percentage, it’s clear that his reliance on triples isn’t overdone.
8 Team Brotherly Love
Team Brotherly Love has gone deep in TBT lately, and if it does so again, it’ll probably be in large part because of Jerrell Wright. He was a key contributor as a freshman on the 2012-13 La Salle team that won three NCAA Tournament games to get to the program’s first Sweet 16 since 1955, and he grew to become one of the program’s most important players from 2012 to 2015 as a four-year starter. He’s played in Austria, Hungary, and France since, scoring in double figures in each of the last four seasons. He also brings a ton of energy on the defensive end – he finished three of his four college seasons with a defensive rating below 100. Now it’s time for him to again be one of the best players on the TBT floor.
9 Playing for Jimmy V (V Foundation)
If you have Josh Perkins on your team, then I will watch you play. He was one of the best point guards in the country while at Gonzaga and one of the top hoopers at the position in Zags history. The term floor general was created for players like Perkins. He can completely control a game by himself, monitoring the tempo and utilizing his incredible vision to see the whole court. He’s also an exceptional defender, can take and make from deep, and has nasty driving ability. I’m extremely excited to watch him play again and expect him to be one of the best players in TBT 2021.
5 Autism Army
Autism Army has a good-looking roster heading into the tournament, but I think the player to watch is Delroy James. He played at Rhode Island from 2007 to 2011 and became a very productive player for the Rams, averaging 17.5 points and 7.9 rebounds in his senior season. Since college, he’s been bouncing among lots of countries to put together a 10-year pro career, including stints in Italy, Israel, Russia, Turkey, Spain, and Greece. He’s got plenty of TBT experience, too, playing in 2015, 2017, and 2018 for different teams. Across nine TBT games, James has averaged 11.1 points and 5.3 rebounds. Can he provide Autism Army with similar production in 2021?
12 SCD Hoops
For a few years in the mid-2010s, Billy Garrett Jr. was DePaul men’s basketball. As a four-year starter, Garrett averaged 13.1 points and 3.5 assists per game for his DePaul career with very high usage rates. He’s since played professionally in the NBA G-League and in France, winning a G-League championship along the way. He competed with House of ‘Paign in TBT 2020 and will bring that experience to SCD Hoops, which is playing to bring awareness to sickle cell disease.
4 Always Us (Oregon alumni)
There are a handful of players on this team I’m excited to see, but the one to watch is Tajuan Porter. He played for Oregon from 2006 to 2010 and in that time set the Pac-10/12 record for most made triples in a career at 345. He is littered throughout the Oregon men’s basketball record book and is one of the best players to ever pass through Eugene. Now 33, Porter last played for the Lugano Tigers in Switzerland in 2019-20. Does the 5-foot-7 guard still have enough in the tank to carry the Oregon alumni to $1 million?
13 Peoria All-Stars
This will be Peoria All-Stars’ fifth-straight TBT, and Montel James is will be playing in his third TBT with the team. In 2018, James averaged 23.5 points and 12.0 rebounds per game while shooting 66.7 percent from the field in the team’s two TBT games, and the Peoria All-Stars will need much of the same from him to make a run in 2021. In college at Loyola-Chicago, he earned an All-MVC nod in 2016 and scored in double figures.
6 The Overlooked (Murray State alumni)
Not only is Isaiah Canaan the player to watch on The OverLooked, he’s one of the players to watch in all of TBT 2021. While at Murray State, he was one of the nation’s preeminent guards, especially in his senior season in 2012-13. That year, Canaan averaged 21.8 points and 4.3 per outing, and he shot 41.9 percent from deep for his entire Racers career. After college, he had a lengthy NBA career, appearing in 235 games from 2013 to 2019. He brings a wealth of talent and experience to the fold, and I cannot wait to see what he can do in this tournament.
11 Team HEARTFire
This isn’t a Baylor alumni team, but it does have a strong Baylor flavor to it. The Bears won the national championship last season, which was a culmination of years of very good teams slowly bringing the program closer and closer. King McClure was a big part of the turnaround that has been Baylor men’s basketball the last 20 years, and he will be crucial to any success this team sees in TBT 2021. The guard was a huge part of what Baylor achieved from 2015 to 2019. He wasn’t a stat-sheet stuffer, but McClure does a lot of things that don’t appear in a box score, like making the right pass, proper positioning, defensive intensity – all the stuff that coaches love. He now works the broadcast booth from ESPN, but the 24-year-old should still have plenty in the tank to compete in this tournament.
3 Boeheim’s Army (Syracuse alumni)
The player to watch on Boeheim’s Army was never a part of Boeheim’s Army at all: Tyrese Rice. He was one of TBT 2020’s best players for Team Challenge ALS, and he’s been an absolute beast his entire career. At Boston College, he was a two-time All-ACC player, and in his overseas career, he’s won EuroCup MVP and FIBA Champions League MVP. The 34-year-old is nearly the end of his playing days, but this tournament could be an exclamation point for the successful vet.
14 Forces of Seoul
Vernon Macklin has been a baller for a long time. He started his college career at Georgetown before transferring to Florida. In two seasons with the Gators, he averaged 11.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per contest, then went on to build a long overseas pro career with stops in Turkey, the Philippines, China, Qatar, Puerto Rico, Japan, and South Korea, which is how he found a spot on this roster.
7 Always A Brave (Bradley alumni)
Always A Brave hasn’t been in TBT for a minute, but it was successful in the past, reaching the semifinals in 2016. Some of the talent from those teams is back for TBT 2021, including Patrick O’Bryant. Way back in 2006, he was the No. 9 overall pick in the NBA Draft after playing a huge role in Bradley’s run to the Sweet 16 in the same year. He spent four years in the NBA, has been a pro for more than a decade, and is a block machine. The 7-footer is now 35, so we’ll see if he can still do what he once could, but a successful showing from him would make a world of difference for this team.
10 Tubby Time
Well, this is awkward. Tubby Time withdrew from TBT 2021 on Tuesday, so it will not be participating this summer. Eight of the team’s players signed pro contracts that caused too many conflicts for them to compete. Such is life. The positive news is eight players from Tubby Time found jobs playing basketball for 2021-22, and that’s pretty neat.
2 House of ‘Paign (Illinois alumni)
There are so many players to watch on this team, but how could I not mention Mike Daum? He’s one of the best scorers in NCAA history, was Summit League Player of the Year for four-straight years, is in the early days of building a great overseas career, and was as dominant as his nickname, “The Dauminator,” would imply at TBT 2020 last summer. If you have any interest in TBT, you watch Mike Daum play basketball. It’s that simple.
15 Jackson TN UnderDawgs
The UnderDawgs have been a staple of TBT for years, and they’ve pulled off some true Cinderella runs in the past. There are no NBA guys or other big names on this roster that you have heard of (unless you’re TBT-obsessed), but a player to watch out for is Tarius Johnson. He’s a former All-OVC player and OVC Tournament champion from his Eastern Kentucky days, and he was very successful at the community college level before moving to EKU. In truth, no one on this roster is a superstar – if the UnderDawgs are to pull off some upsets in TBT 2021, it’ll be because of how well the team works as a collective unit, not because one player took over a game.