Eight teams secure Entry Fee slots into TBT 2018

 

By: Josh Brown | @josh_brown31


For eight teams, the road to $2 million took a huge step forward last week

When TBT announced that four entry fee slots would be available for purchase in the Midwest and South regions, it did not take long for teams to jump at the opportunity. Instead of stressing for the next six weeks about if they will have enough support to qualify for an automatic bid, seven of these teams can now set their focus on putting together the perfect gameplan for tip-off in July. The eighth team will earn their automic bid into TBT 2018 by winning the first-ever Pro Expo TBT Tournament in Orlando on May 26-28.

Let's take a closer look at our first crop of accepted teams.

*As a reminder, there are NO entry fee slots available in the Northeast and West regions.*

Midwest

Team Fredette – After falling to Team Utah in the first round on a last second shot in TBT 2017, Team Fredette is back for revenge this summer. Although the returning Dejan Kravis (Texas Tech) is the only player on the roster so far, if last year was any indication, this team is going to feature a bunch of familiar faces. Whether it be guys like Brandon Davies and Charles Abouo, who played with Jimmer at BYU, or his former Westchester Knicks teammate Jordon Crawford, Team Fredette has no shortage of talent to choose from. With a year of experience now under their belt, expect this team to make some serious noise in TBT 2018.

 

West Coast Ronin – West Coast Ronin might be 0-2 in its TBT career, but that does not mean you should take them lightly. After hearing about TBT on the radio in 2015, GM Allan Cunanan immediately went to work putting together a roster filled with scrappy underdogs who represent different high schools and colleges up and down the West Coast. Although you probably will not know many players on their roster, as we have seen over the years, sometimes flying under the radar can be a good thing in TBT.

 

The Region – Much like West Coast Ronin, GM Corey Moore and The Region enter TBT 2018 with an 0-2 record in the event. With that being said, when your losses are to 2017 Midwest Regional Champion Scarlet & Gray and the Jacob Pullen-led Purple & Black, that is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. In addition to bringing back mainstays such as Corderro Bennett, Mike Miklusak and Christopher Ware, the team made a huge addition in 6-foot-5 guard Malcolm Griffin. After dropping 23 points for the Illinois Hoopville Warriors in their lone game against Hilton Magic Legends last summer, the 2017 Latvian League All-Star will give The Region a scoring boost in the backcourt. In terms of the makeup of the team, these are all guys that hail from an area of Northwest Indiana that extends into the South Side of Chicago. They are looking to prove that even the forgetten areas of America can produce the world's best talent.

 

Las Vegas Chess Center – If you had to pick a frontrunner for most interesting TBT 2018 personality, Las Vegas Chess Center GM John Curcuru would be leading the pack. A longtime chess professional and teacher, Curcuru is hoping to spread the game by making a deep run in TBT. In addition to chess, Curcuru played on the freshman/sophomore basketball team at the University of North Carolina in 2001 and has competed in several professional poker tournaments across the country. Made up of players from the Anthony Morrow Summer Hoops Pro-Am in Charlotte and Curcuru's adopted hometown of Las Vegas, this is a squad that plays a quick, up-tempo style of basketball. Although the Chess Center lost a close first-round Jamboree matchup to the Broad Street Brawlers last summer, Curcuru and company showed that this will be a formidable team for years to come. 

 

South

 

Cancer Plus One – Led by Bernice "Coach B-Nice" Nelson, this team is playing to raise money for the nonprofit that bears the team name. Nelson started Cancer Plus 1 back in 2013 after her fiance was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. To date, the nonprofit has raised more than $65,000 to help improve the quality of life for those suffering from both Cancer and Multiple Sclerosis. For more information about Cancer Plus 1, visit their website here.   

 

Pro Expo Winner – TBT fans know Juan Bernal as the GM and coach of Pedro’s Posse, a two-time participant who featured the likes of Mike Bibby and Jason Williams in 2016. This year, Bernal's impact on TBT will be a bit different. As an extension of his yearly summer basketball camp, Bernal is hosting the first-ever Pro Expo TBT Tournament on May 26-28 in Orlando. The concept is simple: the winner of the 24-team tournament will get an automatic bid into the TBT 2018 South Regional. Registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis and the cost to enter a team is $1,200. To learn more about the Expo or register a team, click here.

 

Brooklyn Vultures- General Manager John Taylor is back in TBT for the third time this summer. After serving as a booster for West Coast Ronin in 2016 and losing in the first round of the Jamboree with the Gotham City Golden Knghts last summer, the Princeton grad will lead a team of players from the New York Tri-State area in TBT 2018. Headlining the Brooklyn Vultures will be 2004 St. John's alum Kyle Cuffe. The 6-foot-9 forward has professional experience both in the G-League and overseas. Another name to keep an eye out for is Johnnie Green. A 6-foot-5 forward, Green just graduated from Division 2 Berkely College where he won a handful of regular season and league tournament titles.

 

Atlanta Dirty South - Considered one of the best amateur teams in the country, it was only a matter of time before Atlanta Dirty South made its triumphant return to TBT. Led by Langston Nolley (25 ppg) and Brandon Robinson (19.2 ppg), the team made a run to the South Regional Championship Game in 2015 where they fell just short to Overseas Elite. That was the last time the team played in TBT as a cohesive unit. Considering players like Nolley and Robinson have played with other squads the past two summers, it will be interesting to see if GM Willie Ivy can reunite the team for another run at TBT glory. If he can, Atlanta Dirty South will be a trendy pick to make a deep run. If not, Ivy will still have plenty of guys to turn to who fit their scrappy style of basketball.