It’s been three years since Ram Nation put a team in the summer hoops tourney known as TBT or “The Basketball Tournament” and while Ram fans will have to wait longer with no squad entered in this year’s event, die hard VCU basketball times do have several teams to root for in next month’s event.
So far the only former VCU players competing in the event are former teammates, Mike’L Simms and Issac Vann. Simms has joined the “Fully Loaded” team coached by honorary Ram, former team Ram Nation star via VMI, Reggie Williams. It will be his first year competing in the popular event. He joins former A-10 Player of the Year, Jon Axel Gudmundsson (Davidson) and a slew of local talents including Curtis “Cujo” Jones (Indiana/Oklahoma St./Penn St), veteran hooper Jamar Abrams (ECU via Highland Springs), Walt Williams Jr (Virginia State) and Du’vaughn Maxwell (Hampton) to name a few. Simms and Co. will compete in the West Virginia region as the No.7 seed, taking on the second-seeded Bucketneers, an ETSU alumni squad that advanced to last season’s “Super 16”. That game will tip at noon on July 24 in Charleston, WV.
Vann played briefly in last year’s event with the Virginia-based “Bleed Virginia” squad before leaving the game early due to injury. He’ll join a team called “Mental Toughness” competing as the No.6 seed in the Syracuse Region. Mental Toughness is entering their second year in the TBT, losing their first game this past year. This year’s group will include Vann and a roster made up mostly of players with ties to the University of Akron. Vann’s game will tip noon July 22 in Syracuse, NY.
Lastly there is the team that yours truly is co-GMing along with fellow VCU alumnus, Andrew Canavos: Skip To My Lou. Team Skip will compete in the Ruckar Park region under the coaching of Rucker legend, AND1 mixtape star and 11-year NBA vet, Rafer “Skip To My Lou” Alston. This first-year team will include a Shaka Smart connection and former team Ram Nation member by way of the Texas Longhorns, Kerwin Roach. Teammates from last year’s Bleed Virginia squad, Terry Tarpey (William & Mary) and James Daniel (Howard/Tennessee), will once again lace em up together. Tarpey is joined by former William & Mary teammate, Greg Malinowski (W&M/Georgetown) on the team. Richmond native, De’Monte Buckingham (Richmond/Cal State Bakersfield/UNCG) will play in his first TBT with the team, as will former A-10 big man, Hasahn French (SLU). Elijah Thomas (Clemson), the infamous George Papas (Monmouth), Richard Washington (Wake Forest/San Jose State), Devine Eke (Radford) and Damani Applewhite (South Carolina State) currently round out that squad, with the team still adding players as of this post.
Team Skip To My Lou will play as the No.5 seed in Rucker Park, taking on the 4th-seeded HBCUnited on July 16 at 8PM on ESPN3.
The Basketball Tournament will feature 71 former NBA players in this year’s tournament, includes alumni teams from the likes of Wichita State, Syracuse, Texas Tech, St. Francis, Dayton, Oregon, St. Bonaventure and Cincinnati to name a few and ends with one team collecting a $1 million prize.
Update: Brandon Rozzell is set to suit up for team Heartfire. Heartfire merged with with last year’s runner-up, Team 23, and will compete July 18 at 6PM at “The Pit” in Albuquerque, NM. He’s scheduled to play alongside former Ram, Justin Tuoyo, but Tuoyo is expected to miss this year’s TBT following surgery on his meniscus.