Former National Player of the Year Jimmer Fredette and potential top-10 NBA draft picks Ausar and Amen Thompson headline the 2022 field for The Basketball Tournament.
The 64-team TBT bracket, which was released Wednesday, features a record 71 players with NBA experience as well as 29 college alumni teams.
For the first time in the event’s history, the TBT will have games played outdoors as one of its regionals is being hosted at historic Rucker Park in New York City. The other seven regional cities include Omaha, Nebraska; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Wichita, Kansas; Syracuse, New York; Charleston, West Virginia; Cincinnati; and Dayton, Ohio.
“This year’s field is electrifying,” TBT founder and CEO Jon Mugar said. “Nine years ago, we set out to be the home for high stakes, open-to-all basketball, pitting people against one another from all walks of life. This year’s field demonstrates how far we’ve come. It is exceptionally diverse and talented. I can’t wait to see what team wins six straight games.”
The teams will compete for the $1 million, winner-take-all championship prize.
Fredette, the former BYU guard who led the country in scoring in 2011 and won consensus National Player of the Year honors before being selected 10th overall in the NBA draft, is headlining The Money Team.
“I’m going to get out and play again and have fun,” Fredette told ESPN. “My brother [general manager TJ Fredette] is part of getting the team together. It should be a lot of fun to get back out on the court again and play competitive basketball.”
After playing for the Shanghai Sharks in China in 2021, Fredette opted to stay home this winter and spring as he and his wife welcomed their third child. He is joining a team that reached the quarterfinals last season and features the likes of Trevor Booker, Jeremy Evans, Charles Jenkins and Jordon Crawford.
“I feel pretty good,” Fredette said. “I stayed working out the entire time. I’ll always work out, keep working on my game. I’ll be excited to play in front of some fans, playing with some guys I really like.”
Fredette played in the TBT in 2018, leading the tournament in scoring – including a 41-point effort to help Team Fredette advance.
“It’s always great,” he said. “At this point, it’s just about trying to win. Just doing whatever it takes to advance. I was fortunate last time to have a really great tournament, be the leading scorer. That’s cool, but it’s about surviving and advancing. It’s about trying to win these games and move forward. Get toward that one million.”
Fredette’s The Money Team is the 1-seed in the Dayton region. Other 1-seeds include YGC (Rucker Park), Gutter Cats (Omaha), Heartfire (New Mexico), Florida TNT (Xavier), Boeheim’s Army (Syracuse), AfterShocks (Wichita State) and Best Virginia (West Virginia).
The TBT began in 2014, when Notre Dame Fighting Alumni won the first championship. Overseas Elite won the next four titles before their streak ended in 2019 at the hands of Carmen’s Crew, a team of Ohio State alumni. Marquette-centric Golden Eagles Alumni won in 2020, with Syracuse-focused Boeheim’s Army taking the title last season.
Boeheim’s Army will defend its title this summer by adding first-time TBT players Tyler Ennis, Rakeem Christmas and Marek Dolezaj — all Syracuse alums — to a group that already included five-time TBT champion D.J. Kennedy and four-time champion DeAndre Kane.
As ESPN reported earlier this month, projected 2023 lottery picks Amen and Ausar Thompson are headlining Team Overtime, a squad put together by the sports media company Overtime. The Thompson twins suited up for Overtime Elite this past season, as did Jazian Gortman, another projected draft pick who will play for Team Overtime in the TBT. It will mark the first time NBA draft-eligible prospects will participate in the TBT, although the team also features several pro veterans, including former San Diego State star Malcolm Thomas. Overtime is the 6-seed in the Omaha region.
Sideline Cancer, the 2-seed in the Xavier region, is looking for its third consecutive quarterfinal appearance. They bring back scorer Marcus Keene, but also add former South Dakota State star Mike Daum and longtime NBA veteran C.J. Miles.
Other players with NBA experience expected to play in this year’s TBT include Zhaire Smith (Air Raiders), Omari Spellman (Eberlein Drive), Antonio Blakeney (Florida TNT), Semaj Christon (Zip ‘Em Up), Justin Patton (Omaha Blue Crew), Jacob Pullen (Purple & Black), Kosta Koufos (Red Scare), Xavier Munford (The Money Team), Jacob Evans (Nasty Nati), Markel Brown (Stillwater Stars) and others.
The championship team earns $1 million in a winner-take-all title game to be televised on ESPN. This summer’s championship game will be played at Dayton on Aug. 2.