A (Very) Early Look at TBT 2017
By: Josh Brown | @josh_brown31
#TBT2017 IS OFFICIALLY UNDERWAY
When the clock struck midnight and the calendar flipped to April on Saturday, fans, GM’s and players around the country took one step closer to $2 million.
#TBT2017 registration may be just over 48 hours old, but it’s never too early to start looking at who could potentially make up the 64-team field. With $2 million on the line and the winning team’s top fans set to take home $200,000, every minute counts ahead of the June 1 registration deadline.
In order to qualify for TBT 2017, teams must have 100 fan votes and at least seven players on the roster. While as of Monday morning the Jackson TN Underdawgs and PrimeTime Players are the only eligible teams, several others are well on their way to surpassing the feat in the first week of registration.
Team Challenge ALS was the first squad to roster seven players, and is looking like an early contender to make a deep run in the West region. Dedicated to raising awareness and money for ALS, the team is a revitalization of the 2016 Skinner's Frate Train team which played in honor of former Boston College basbeall star Pete Frates (who will also serve as booster of this year's squad). A couple of familiar faces will be leading the charge, with former Boston College great Sean Marshall balancing both GM and small forward duties and Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan serving as booster. In addition, Sacramento Kings guard Darren Collison will coach the group, which consists of alumni from Washington, Mississippi State, Georgia, Louisville and other college basketball powerhouses. True to their name, Team Challenge ALS has already continued the fight against the disease, with each member participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge which Frates made famous in the summer of 2014.
Thirteen teams have already netted at least 100 fan votes, and so far TBT newcomer Memorial Magic (Vanderbilt Alumni) leads the pack. Sitting just 25 votes shy of 400, the team already features overseas professionals Steve Tchiengang and Lance Goulbourne as well as Vanderbilt all-time leading scorer and 2008 SEC Player of the Year Shan Foster. The Golden Eagles (Marquette Alumni) sit right below Memorial Magic, with Gaelnation (Iona Alumni), Ram Nation (VCU Alumni), Golden Boot Dynasty and The Untouchables (Pittsburgh Alumni) rounding out the top-six.
There are a couple of other interesting storylines that have developed over the past two days. One year after electrifying the crowd with the likes of Mike Bibby and Jason Williams, GM Juan Bernal has made point guard Brett Comer the first addition to the 2017 edition of Pedro’s Posse. That name should sound familiar. Comer was the starting point guard on the 2012-2013 Florida Gulf Coast team which upset No. 2 seed Georgetown and No. 7 San Diego State in the NCAA Tournament. Since leaving the friendly confines of Fort Myers, Comer has played in the D-League and currently the ABA where he suits up for the Orlando Waves.
Several other intriguing alumni teams have begun to form as well. In addition to the aforementioned Memorial Magic and Gaelnation, UKnighted (Rutgers), Banner Boys (UW-Milwaukee), Hilton Magic Legends (Iowa State), Tampa Bulls (South Florida), and Arizona all look to make their first appearance in TBT.
After taking 2016 off, Majerus SLU Crew (Saint Louis Alumni) is another team you are going to want to keep your eyes on this summer. Already sitting at over 100 fan votes, the former Billikens are just two players away from becoming eligible. Filled with overseas professionals, the team has a dynamic backcourt in Jordair Jett and Mike McCall Jr. Both 2014 graduates, the duo led the Billikens to two Atlantic 10 Conference regular season titles and three NCAA Tournament appearances. In addition, Jett was the 2014 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and a three-time member of the Atlantic 10 All-Defensive Team.
With still eight weeks to go before the June 1st deadline, TBT 2017 is already off to a roaring start. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled, as teams and players will continue to flow in by the dozens.