New look Eberlein Drive team looking to build on past success

 

By: Meghan Carroll


Eberlein Drive is coming with a totally new roster this summer

Named the worst team in TBT 2014 by Sports Illustrated, Eberlein Drive was just a group of childhood friends wanting to play together. The team takes its name after a cul-de-sac in Fraser, Michigan.

With blowout losses becoming the normal between 2014-2017, it might’ve been hard to predict what the team had in store. They quickly emerged into a TBT powerhouse in 2018, making a run all the way to the championship game before falling to Overseas Elite. In 2019, they made the Super 16 before losing to the eventual champions, Carmen’s Crew.

Now, Eberlein Drive is back with an entirely new roster for TBT 2020 after losing their best player, Jerome Randle, to an ACL injury in March.

 

Without Randle and Donald Sloan, another key shooter who applied to play on a different team, Eberlein Drive had to rebuild. The team’s evolution over the past few years will be a testament to how they are able to come together for 2020.

GM Matt Mitchell, who joined the team in 2015, said that their progression over the years shows the work they’ve put into the team and the relationships built. He still has team founder Jacob Hirschmann by his side aiding in the team’s success even though Mitchell took on the GM role.

With no returning players from the past couple summers, the team's ability to play together will be new for them. 

“You have to have team-first guys,” said Mitchell. “Chemistry is huge, you have to have guys that want to play defense.”

With a new roster, there might be skepticism about how they'll fare in TBT. Mitchell made the point that they were in a similar position in 2018 and were successful, so he’s not too worried. They will also be bringing in a new coach, who is yet to be announced but has been a key aspect in getting this team together. 

“The biggest change is just the event itself,” said Mitchell. “It’s gotten bigger and put more eyes on it, so that obviously helps in recruiting when the people understand what this thing’s all about.” 

Even though this team is full of NBA and overseas talent, Dusty Hannahs is the only one on the team with prior TBT experience. He previously played for Team Arkansas in 2018.

 

“TBT has been real good to me and my family and I’m just excited to get to play again,” said Hannahs. 

Hannahs has been playing with the Memphis Grizzlies and their G-League team, Memphis Hustle, since 2018. With TBT he wants to show everyone that his game is still improving. 

Another addition to Eberlein Drive, J.P. Macura, has also had a career in the NBA playing for the Charlotte Hornets and their G-League affiliate Greensboro Swarm. He went on to play with the Cleveland Cavaliers and their G-League affiliate Canton Charge this past season. 

For players like Hannahs and Macura, who’ve had 10-day call-ups to NBA teams, this will be a chance for them to continue to show their talent on the national stage.

“I think it’s going to be pretty good exposure for everybody,” said Macura. “Hopefully we can play some good team basketball and come together.”

 

Macura will also be playing with an old teammate from Xavier, Kaiser Gates. Macura said they played well together in college and is looking forward to reuinting.

Another pair of former teammates are Tim Quarterman and Johnny O’Bryant from LSU. Both have had stints in the NBA. 

O’Bryant was the 36th overall NBA Draft pick by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2014. He continued to get time with the Denver Nuggets and the Charlotte Hornets from 2016-2018. He currently plays in Russia for PBC Lokomotiv Kuban. 

With TBT starting in just a few weeks on July 4, instead of the original date of July 23, timelines for preparation are cut down. TBT will now be a totally quarantined tournament taking place in Columbus, OH for all 10 days of games, featuring 24 teams instead of 64. 

Mitchell said constant communication and transparency is how he is getting his team ready. Even though it’s a new team for Mitchell, he is just excited to get out and have his players experience this tournament. 

“With new guys I’m excited to give them an opportunity to see it first hand,” said Mitchell. “I’m confident that once they do experience it they’ll be begging to come back in 2021 just like my guys have in the past.”