Three years after historic upset, Jackson TN UnderDawgs STILL motivated to prove the doubters wrong

 

By: Charlie Darby


Nobody believes in the Jackson TN Underdawgs...that's exactly how they like it

The Jackson TN UnderDawgs might be the most close-knit team in TBT history. As their name suggests, the team is made up entirely of guys who grew up in the Jackson, TN area, many of whom have been playing together since middle school. 

Roughly half the team went to Liberty Tech High School and the other went to crosstown rival South Side High. The two teams battled throughout high school, with Liberty eventually winning back-to-back Tennessee state championships in 2003 and 2004.  

Still, they felt doubted throughout their title runs. Even after winning the first year, nobody saw them as a serious contender the following season. 

This mentality has carried over into TBT.  In 2016, the UnderDawgs were given a 16 seed and had to face off with the top-seeded Bluegrass Boys (Kentucky Alumni). Even though all the experts had the Bluegrass Boys as a shoo-in, Jackson dominated from start to finish en route to an 87-78 upset win. The team notched another win last summer against a group of Pittsburgh alumni.

The team will look to prove the doubters wrong once again in TBT 2019. The UnderDawgs received an 8 seed in the Memphis Regional (the highest possible seed), and will face No. 1 seed Gael Force (St. Mary’s Alumni).  Additionally, ESPN released a ranking of all 64 teams in the field, with the UnderDawgs checking in at No. 56.

“We’ve proven time and time again that we can beat anyone on the basketball court," said captain Jewuan Long. "Ever since high school, we have been beating teams that were ‘better than us.'"

The team features just one player currently playing professional basketball, point guard Jaylen Barford.  The rest of the team works day jobs and gets together on the weekends to practice and play in small cash tournaments. While this would be intimidating to some, this is a fact that has fueled the UnderDawgs ever since Jewuan Long suggested they enter TBT in 2015.  

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“I thought it was a joke at first when Jewuan first brought it up,” said GM Darius DeBerry.

“It was a joke when I brought up,” added Long, “but, the more I looked into it, the more I believed that we could do it and win it.”

Almost four years later, TBT is far from a joking matter for these UnderDawgs.

“We’re a confident group,” said DeBerry. “We know that when it comes down to it, we can beat anyone in this tournament.”

“Just throw the ball up” added Long.