TBT Power Rankings 5.11.18

 

By: Josh Brown | @josh_brown31


Our first power rankings of #TBT2018 are finally here!

With the #TBT2018 registration deadline just three weeks away, the field is starting to take shape. This means that there is no better time to start digging in and looking at who could potentially be competing for $2 million this summer. With that being said, do not worry if you do not see your favorite team on here. There is still plenty of time to put together the perfect roster and rack up fan support. As always, please remember that this is just one guy's opinion. Enjoy!

*Note: Only teams who had five players on their roster as of 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 9 were taken into consideration*

 

1. Team Challenge ALS *Accepted*

With all due respect to everybody else, this was a no-brainer. Until Overseas Elite officially returns, it will be very hard to knock Team Challenge ALS off the pedestal. After steamrolling the competition en route to the TBT Championship Game last summer, Sean Marshall and company return virtually the same roster while also adding a couple of key additions. That's right - somehow Team Challenge ALS got even better this offseason. E.J. Rowland, who graduated from St. Mary's in 2005 and has won multiple MVP awards in his 13-year overseas career, will join an already stacked backcourt of Jerry Smith, Marvelle Harris, Larry Gordon and TBT 2017 All-Tournament Team member Casper Ware. How do you stop that? In the frontcourt, the team will also get a boost in the form of 2014 NBA Champion Jeff Ayres. Since graduating Arizona State in 2009, the 6-foot-10 forward has bouncd between the NBA and overseas, most recently suiting up for Eskisehir Basket in Turkey this season. Remember, this is a Team Challenge ALS squad who won its first four games by double digits and is playing for a cause bigger than themselves. I simply do not see a more well-rounded team in the TBT field right now.

 

2. Ram Nation (VCU Alumni)

OK, there might be a couple of teams as well-rounded as Team Challenge ALS. Ram Nation is one of them. Where do you even begin with this squad? Brandon Rozzell is lights out from three and had one of the most incredible shooting performances in TBT history when he hit four in a two-minute span against Overseas Elite last summer. Eric Maynor brings a host of NBA and overseas experience. Reggie Williams - an adopted Ram who played his college ball at VMI and became Virginia's all-time leading scorer - can play positions 1-4. This is all just scratching the surface. The team made a couple of interesting additions this year in Melvin Johnson and Xavier alum James Farr. Johnson is a 2016 VCU graduate who averaged 17.4 ppg in his senior season and has since had two great professional seasons in Italy. While he does not have any immediately obvious connections to either VCU or the state of Virginia, Farr brings some height to a relatively small Ram Nation squad. The 6-foot-10 power forward is in his second professional season, suiting up for Chalon in France's top league.

 

3. Memphis State (Memphis Alumni)

This Memphis State team is a remake of the 2016 Bluff City Blues squad that got upset by Trained To Go in the second round of the South Regional. While anything can happen in TBT, I would be surprised to see them suffer a similar fate this summer. Memphis State has a ton of great guard depth with the likes of 2013 Conference USA Sixth Man of the Year Chris Crawford, 2008 NCAA Championship Game participant Willie Kemp and 2015 D-League All-Star Adonis Thomas, among others. But where this roster really shines is its low post presence. Jarvis Varnado, a three-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year for Mississippi State, is the NCAA's all-time leader in blocks. Wesley Witherspoon, a 2012 Memphis grad, was rated one of the top 100 shooters in the world above 6-foot-9. Memphis native Qyntel Woods played four seasons in the NBA with Portland, Miami and New York. There is just not a lot of holes in this roster.

 

4. Zoo Crew (Pittsburgh Alumni)

Much like Memphis State, I expect Zoo Crew to respond in a big way in TBT 2018 after suffering a surprising upset at the hands of Sidline Cancer last summer. The only two returnees from last year's team are LeVance Fields and Temple grad Jesse Morgan. Fields dropped 35 points in the team's lone game and Morgan added 17 points and four rebounds. After playing alongside Fields with The Untouchables in TBT 2016 and sticking with the squad last summer, Pittsbugh grad Antonio Graves and UMass product Ricky Harris make the transition to the Zoo Crew. Gilbert Brown and Jermaine Dixon, both former Panthers who also played on that 2016 Untouchables team, will also make their return to TBT. 

 

5. Team Fancy

Some people may be surrpised to see Team Fancy this high on the power rankings. But as my memory recalls, not many picked the Griffin Taylor-led squad to make it to the Super 16 last summer, which is exactly what they did after earning impressive wins over the Rebel Riders (Rider Alumni) and SuperNOVA (Villanova Alumni) in the Northeast Regional. Simply put, this squad showed that they are for real. The team returns some key players from last year, including Delroy James (14 ppg, 4.7 rpg), Zamal Nixon (10 ppg), Ryan Pearson (11.3 ppg, 6 rpg) and Kyle Hunt (7 ppg, 5.3 rpg). They have also proved to be a hot destination, poaching St. John's alum D'Angelo Harrison from GaelNation and Miami product Malcolm Grant from SuperNOVA. If you like hard-nosed New York basketball, this is the squad for you.

 

6. Team Arkansas (Arkansas Alumni)

With still three weeks to go in the registration period, Team Arkansas has all but guaranteed themselves a spot in TBT after racking up over 2,000 supporters in the month of April. They are also looking like a legit contender to take home the $2 million. The most notable player on the roster is Ronnie Brewer, the 14th pick in the 2006 NBA Draft who went on to play eight seasons with the Jazz, Grizzlies, Bulls, Knicks, Thunder and Rockets. With that being said, this is far from a one-man show. Moses Kingsley is one of two players in Arkansas history to record 1,000 points, 600 rebounds and 200 blocks in his Hogs career. Dusty Hannahs led the Razorbacks in scoring in his junior and senior seasons. Jabril Durham is an assist machine. While having very little TBT experience on the team could hurt them, they have so much talent that I do not forsee it being an issue. 

 

7. Bearcat Jam (Cincinnati Alumni)

This is another team with a ton of talent but very little TBT experience. Similar to Team Arkansas, though, I fully expect them to be in contention for the $2 million. While strong guard play seems to dominate TBT (and Bearcat Jam has plenty of it), this is a team who has the potential to do a lot of damage down in the paint. Between 6-foot-10 forward Coreontae DeBerry, 6-foot-10 center Octavius Ellis and 7-foot-1 stalwart Anthony McClain, not many teams will be able to match this pure height and strength. This should open up plenty of room for the team's talented crop of guards, including 2017 All-Georgian League Finls MVP Deonta Vaughn and Cincinnatti all-time steals leader Cashmere Wright.

 

8. Team Colorado (Colorado Alumni)

Although they only have six players on the roster right now, it is alredy evident that the 2016 runner-ups will once again be one of the most loaded squads in TBT. After missing TBT last summer, Richard Roby will be returning for Team Colorado. This should give the team a huge offensive boost. The 6-foot-6 forward and 10-year overseas professional averaged 17.5 ppg and 7 rpg in the team's run to the Championship Game two years ago. Considering their tallest player stands at just 6-foot-9, it will be interesting to see if Team Colorado uses its remaining roster spots to add some height or if they will look to play the small ball style of basketball that has become increasingly popular in TBT. 

 

9. GaelNation (Iona Alumni)

GaelNation proved that they are way better than the 11-seed they were awarded last summer. Not only did the team defeat two-time Northeast Regional Champion City of Gods in the first round, but they took Boeheim's Army to the brink in a 2OT game that ranks among the best in TBT history. To help take that next step as a team, GM John Kiggins traveled to Europe to recruit players for #TBT2018. His efforts have proven to be fruitful. In addition to the returning Steven Burtt, Javier Carter and Aaron Roundtree, GaelNation has added Iona 2,000 point scorer A.J. English, 2016 Finnish League Scoring Champion Lamont "Momo" Jones, 2015 MAAC Player of the year David Laury and lights out 3-point shooter Sean Armand.

 

10. Armored Athlete

Armored Athlete is the San Antonio Spurs of TBT. Although they do not get as much recognition as they probably deserve given the success they have had the past couple of years, they are unselfish and play the game the right way. That is why they have already cracked the top-ten despite only having five players on the roster right now. Simply put, this is a team that knows how to win at this level. Much of that can be attributed to the guys already on the roster - David Dudzkinski (Holy Cross), Julian Gamble (Miami), Jordan Hulls (Indiana), Will Sheehey (Indiana) and Garrett Sim (Oregon). Knowing Armored Athlete, this team will get even deeper in the coming weeks. A huge congrats is also in order for head coach Daniel Engelstad, who was named the top dog at Mount Saint Mary's after spending the last five years at Division 3 Southern Vermont College. 

 

11. ATL All Stars

GM Charles Ridley has entered some good teams in years past. This is shaping up to be his best yet. If they gain entry into TBT 2018, ATL All Stars sports a roster that features a combined four NBA championships. Shooting guard Shannon Brown and power forward Josh Powell were both on the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 Lakers teams that went back-to-back against the Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics. As impressive as that is, the roster does not drop off from there. PJ Hairston played in 111 NBA games for the Hornets and Grizzlies from 2014-2016, forward James Maye has won titles in both Japan and the G-League and Northwestern product JerShon Cobb brings both overseas and G-League experience.

 

12. Forks Up (Arizona State Alumni) 

This is another squad that will inevtiably move up the power rankings as they add more players. With that being said, GM Bo Barnes is already off to a great start. In addition to former Cleveland Cavalier Carrick Felix, one player that you literally will not be able to miss is Jordan Bachynski. Standing at 7-foot-2, the 2014 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, 2014 NCAA blocks leader and 2016 G-League All-Star immediately gives Forks Up one of the best low post presences in TBT.

 

13. Team 23

As long as Davin White is on the court, Team 23 is always going to be in contention. Despite not making it out of the regional rounds for the first time in its three years competing in the event last summer, the Ron Katich-coached team is back with another deep roster. In addition to White, who dropped 23 points in their opening round win against Pedro's Posse in TBT 2017, I am looking to newcomer Charlie Westbrook to make a big impact. A 2012 South Dakota grad, Westbrook enjoyed a cup of coffee with both the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat. Although he has not played professionally since 2016, the 6-foot-4 guard was Mr. Reliable while playing overseas in Italy, France and Poland.

 

14. West Virginia Wildcats 

If you watched the NCAA Tournament this March, you surely remember Ot Elmore. The loveable shooting guard is back playing one-and-done basketball just two months after his Marshall Fighting Herd upset Witchita State in the first round, this time leading the West Virginia Wildcats in TBT. In addition to Elmore, point guard Stevie Browning, small forward Tyquane Goard and power forward Ryan Taylor will be representing Marshall. The lion's share of the remaining players hail from Elmore's hometown of Charleston, West Virginia. Like the NCAA Tournament, Elmore's squad will definitely fly under the radar heading into TBT. But if they can get their 3-point shooting going from the opening tip, this is a squad that has major upset potential.

 

15. Team Rondo

Let's start by addressing the elephant in the room: this team is obviously named after Rajon "Point God" Rondo. Although he is not on the roster yet (the Pelicans just concluded their season earlier this week), all indications point to the fact that he will indeed be coaching this squad. As long as this comes to fruition, Team Rondo already has an inherent advantage over the rest of the field. The 2008 NBA Champion is widely regarded as one of the smartest and most detailed oriented players in the league. He also has an extremely talented roster to work with, filled with guys who have ties to Rondo's home state of Kentucky. Western Kentucky product AJ Slaughter had a great showing for the Kentucky Kings in last year's South Regional. Jazzmarr Ferguson is one of the best 3-point shooters in Italy. Larry O'Bannon was named the Regional MVP when his Louisville Cardinals made the Final Four in 2005. Similarly impressive feats can be found up and down the roster.

 

16. NC Prodigal Sons

While you might not know any of their names, the NC Prodigal Sons are a living embodiment of the power of team basketball. After losing a heartbreaking game to Ram Nation in the first round of TBT 2016, the team responded in a big way last summer by upsetting the Marshall Henderson-led Ole Hotty Toddy and then dispatching Golden Boot Dynasty to advance to the Super 16. Although they once again fell to Ram Nation in a tight contest, a team filled with just two professional players got to showcase their skills in primetime on national television. That sure does not sound like losing to me. If Al'Lonzo Coleman (15.3 ppg, 13 rpg) and Damier Pitts (13.7 ppg, 4.3 apg, 4.3 rpg) return this summer, do not be surprised to see them right back in the Super 16.

UPDATE: It looks like Coleman and Pitts are back. Watch out, competition.

 

 

17. Air Force Bomb Squad (Air Force Alumni) *Accepted*

One of TBT's original teams, the Bomb Squad will compete in the Hoopfest Pod on June 29-30 in Spokane, Washington. Considering they will have to get through Team Utah (Utah Alumni), Few Good Men (Gonzaga Alumni) and Gael Force (St. Mary's Alumni) to reach the Super 16, it certainly will not be an easy task. With that being said, the team's signature Princeton offense is always run to a tee and certainly gives them upset potential.

 

18. DC On Point

DC On Point may have lost in the first round last summer, but do not let that fool you. This is a really good squad. In fact, DC On Point led 4-seed FOE by 10 points with just over 12 minutes remaining. This is the same FOE squad that eventually made the Northeast Regional Championship Game. Led by 2016 "Fight Ball" champion Andrew "Spongebob" Washington, 2014 TBT champion Torin Francis and former South Carolina Gamecock turned 10-year overseas and G-League vet Tre Kelley, these truly are some of the best players that DC has to offer.

 

19. D3

I have no idea what to expect from D3 in TBT 2018. Filled with some of the best Division 3 players in recent memory, this group of scrappy underdogs is looking to prove that they can compete at the highest level. On one hand, it would not surprise me if they sent shockwaves through the basketball universe and made a deep run. Considering they have guys like Joey Flannery (two-time D3 Player of the Year), Lucas Johnson (2016 D3 Player of the Year) and Johnathan Ivy (D3 All-American) on the roster, this is a group that certainly knows how to win. It would also not surprise me if they lost their first game by 30 points. Either way, I am fascinated to see this team in action. 

 

20. PrimeTime Players

Much like the NC Prodigal Sons, you will not know any names on this roster. So why did they crack the top-20? It's simple - they are an insanely hard team to beat. PrimeTime has won six consecutive championships between the Tobacco Road League (2012-2014) and East Coast Basketball League (2015-2017). They have also had success in TBT, reaching the Super 17 in 2015 and upsetting Blue Zoo (Middle Tennessee State Alumni) in the first round last summer. When playing PrimeTime one thing is certain - it is going to be a close game that comes down to the final couple possessions. Sometimes they win and sometimes they lose, but their opponent certainly knows their names by the end of the game.

 

21. Huntington Huskies (Northeastern Alumni)

In terms of transparency, I must admit that I graduated from Northeastern exactly one week ago. Still, this is a good team that has the potential to be great. Although the Huntington Huskies have some major work to do in the next three weeks in terms of filling out the roster and collecting fan support, the players they already have on board are some of Northeastern's best. Quincy Ford, who played in the G-League for the Salt Lake City Stars before heading over to Hungary this season, helped lead the Huskies to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1991 back in 2015. Joel Smith averaged 15.3 ppg for The Citi Team in their three games last summer. Jonathan Lee has been one of the best players on his team wherever his overseas career has taken him. Manny Adako has experience both playing professionally and coaching at the collegiate level. If they get into TBT, this team could be a matchup nightmare for the opposition.

 

22. Jackson TN Underdawgs

No team is going to be hungrier than the Jackson TN Underdawgs. After upsetting one-seed Bluegrass Boys (Kentucky Alumni) in the first round of TBT 2016, the team lost on a last second shot to eventual Midwest Regional Champion Always A Brave. The team returned last summer with a reloaded roster, but once again suffered a heartbreaking defeat. With one second remaining, Banner Boys guard Ronald Davis put back an offensive rebound to send the Underdawgs back home to Jackson, Tennessee empty-handed. With revenge solely on their mind, I would not want to be the team that has to face them in TBT 2018. 

 

23. Reach 1 Teach 1

If you like New York basketball, you will like Reach 1 Teach 1. This is a squad that plays a hard-nosed style of ball and is not afraid to get physical. They also have an incredibly talented roster. Former Rutgers standout Gerald Inman has experience both in the G-League and around the world. Missouri product Keith Ramsey has racked up countless All-Defensive Team honors overseas. Reggie Larry has played in almost every country imagineable in a decorated career.  The list goes on and on.

 

24. Louisiana United

Although they only have five players on the roster right now, the infrastructure of this team is looking good. Whether it be 2010 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year Tyren Johnson, four-time overseas champion Mykal Riley or Northwestern State all-time leading shot blocker William Mosley, this Louisiana United squad is filled with pure athletes. In addiiton, all five of their players currently stand 6-foot-5 or taller. While they will surely be adding some more guard depth in the coming weeks, expect them to use this size to their advantage in TBT 2018.

 

25. The Founding Fathers (JMU Alumni)

After narrowly missing out on a TBT berth last summer, The Founding Fathers are looking to finally punch their ticket to the South Regional in TBT 2018. If they get in this time around, they have the build of a team who can potentially shock the nation. As the roster stands right now, Serbia native Dimitrije Cabarkapa is the only player standing taller than 6-foot-8. This means that they are going to look to get out and push the tempo.