Yes, Jimmer Fredette will be playing in this year’s The Basketball Tournament.
But there are plenty of interesting storylines beyond the former BYU basketball star in the 5-on-5 basketball tournament where teams are fighting to win the $2 million prize, with $200,000 set aside for fans of the winning team who can vote (and network) their way to a share of the money.
Here’s why Utahns should be paying attention to TBT 2018.
Tournament size: This year’s field will include 72 teams, with 18 in each of the tournament’s four regions (Northeast, Midwest, South, West). Last year, there were 64 teams in the tournament.
Tournament dates: The majority of the first and second rounds (and play-in games) will take place the weekends of July 14-15 and July 21-22 at several locations. Super 16 and quarterfinal action will be played in Atlanta from July 27-29, followed by the semifinals on Aug. 2 and championship game on Aug. 3 in Baltimore, Maryland.
How to watch: ESPN3 will be streaming the majority of the early-round games, while a handful of the Midwest Region first- and second-round games will be on ESPN and ESPN2. From the Super 16 round on, games will either be on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU, with the semifinals and championship all on ESPN.
Check out the full broadcast schedule here.
New this year: There are two four-team pods — the Hoopfest Pod and Big East Pod — that will begin first- and second-round action two weeks before the rest of the tournament field. These pods are made up of teams that feature alumni from certain colleges, a common practice in TBT play.
The Hoopfest Pod, part of the West Region, includes the Utah alumni squad Team Utah, as well as Few Good Men (Gonzaga alumni), Gael Force (Saint Mary’s) and Air Force Bomb Squad (Air Force).
Team Utah and Few Good Men play Friday night at 8 p.m. MDT in Spokane, Wash., in first-round play, while Gael Force and Air Force Bomb Squad play in the earlier game at 6 p.m. The winners play in the second round Saturday at 8:30 p.m., with all three games streaming on Watch ESPN.
The Big East Pod, which also starts play this weekend, is in the Midwest Region and features Jack Attack (Georgetown alumni), Hall in (Seton Hall), Golden Eagles (Marquette) and Johnnies (St. John’s).
Meet Team Fredette: Last year, Fredette served as head coach for his team in its first year in The Basketball Tournament. This year, though, Fredette told ESPN he will be dropping the clipboard and playing in the tournament, with hopes of earning another shot at the NBA.
"I would always love to get another chance in the NBA," Fredette told ESPN. "I've gotten better in China and improved every year. ... You hope somebody takes notice."
Fredette’s career has taken him from the NBA (four teams in five years) to the NBA’s development league and most recently to the Chinese Basketball Association with the Shanghai Sharks the past two seasons. Fredette told ESPN he would honor his Chinese Basketball Association contract, which has one more year, before pursuing another shot in the NBA.
Like last year, former Cougar Charles Abouo will play for Team Fredette, and Brandon Davies may play as well. He played for Team Fredette in 2017.
"I'm leaning towards playing," Davies told BYU Sports Nation on Friday, saying a lot will depend on how his body is feeling. He recently helped lead his Lithuanian team, Zalgiris Kaunas, to an 80-70 win over Lietuvos Rytas to clinch the LKL championship.
Team Fredette will be competing in the Midwest Region. They will play the winner of West Coast Ronin and Peoria Allstars on June 21 at 10 a.m. in Columbus, Ohio, in a game televised on ESPN.
Meet Team Utah: The Utah alumni team has several former Utes returning to the roster for the squad’s fourth straight year in the tournament. Team Utah advanced as far as the quarterfinals in 2016.
Former Utes back are general manager/power forward Shaun Green, point guard Tim Drisdom and shooting guard Dakarai Tucker.
This year’s version also has three players from other Utah schools, with former Utah State small forward Danny Berger, Weber State point guard Nick Covington and Utah Valley center Akolda Manyang also joining Team Utah.
If Team Utah advances past the first two rounds in the Hoopfest Pod, it could potentially play Team Colorado, a University of Colorado alumni team, in the round of 16.
A look back: Team Utah and Team Fredette met in the first round of last year’s West Region, with Team Utah winning 100-97. Drisdom hit an off-balance 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds to play to lift Team Utah to the victory over the Fredette-coached team. Team Utah fell 85-83 in the second round to Few Good Men, meaning their first-round matchup this year will give Team Utah a chance at some revenge.
No The Wasatch Front in 2018: Last year, a Weber State alumni team — with Damian Lillard as one of its coaches — made its debut in the tournament.
They aren’t back in the TBT field this year, though. In 2017, The Wasatch Front fell to Team Challenge ALS 97-81 in the first round of West Region play.
Meet Utah Valor: In the West Region this year, there is a team called Utah Valor that will have to face Fort Hood Wounded Warriors for the chance to play West top seed Team Challenge ALS in the first round.
Weber State alum Bryan Tracy serves as the team’s general manager/head coach, while one of the team’s players, shooting guard Chris Jones, hails from Spanish Fork and was a Utah high school all-star, according to his player profile.
Other Utah college connections: Former Weber State shooting guard Scott Bamforth is playing for Albuquerque Hoops in the West Region, with their first-round game against Forks Up on July 15. Former Utah State and Provo High forward Tai Wesley, coincidentally, is playing for Forks Up, a team comprised mainly of Arizona State alums.
Chris Woods, a former Weber State basketball player, is also an assistant coach with team The Region in the Midwest Region.
Utah Jazz connections: Ronnie Brewer, a former longtime Jazzman who most recently played for the Santa Cruz Warriors in the NBA Developmental G League, will play for Team Arkansas, a squad comprised mostly of Arkansas alums, in the Northeast Region. Team Arkansas faces Tim Thomas' Playaz on July 21.
Josh Howard, who played for the Jazz for two seasons, is playing for Wake the Nation, a team of Wake Forest alums, in the South Region. Wake the Nation will first play Showtime on July 14.
Eric Maynor, a former Jazzman drafted by the team in 2009, is suiting up for Ram Nation, a team of VCU alumni. Ram Nation is also in the South Region and will play the winner of Cancer Plus 1 and Tampa 20/20 on July 14.
Eric Griffin, who signed a two-way contract with the Jazz last year and played for the Jazz G League affiliate Salt Lake City Stars, is playing for Team DRC in the South Region. Team DRC first plays NC Prodigal Sons on July 14.
Other names to know: Matt Barnes, a longtime NBA player who most recently played for the Golden State Warriors in 2017, is playing in TBT for Sons of Westwood, a UCLA alumni team, in the West Region. Former NBA players Shannon Brown, PJ Hairston, Josh Powell and Solomon Jones are all playing for ATL All Stars in the South Region and ex-NBA players Jared Sullinger, Glen Rice Jr., Jeremy Pargo and Lou Amundsen are also playing in the tournament.
In addition, current Indiana Pacer Darren Collison is the head coach for Team Challenge ALS in the West Region, and Evan Turner of the Portland Trail Blazers is the head coach for Sullinger’s team, Scarlet & Gray, the Ohio State alumni team, in the Midwest Region.
The Elam Ending rule back for good: Last year, The Basketball Tournament experimented with something called The Elam Ending rule for several games. A few weeks ago, the tournament announced that the Elam rule will be in effect in every TBT game this year.6 comments on this story
Here's the rundown on how it works, based on research by Nick Elam, a 34-year-old middle school principal and coordinator of a group of Mensa sports fans. After the first dead ball with under four minutes remaining, the clock will be turned off and a “Target Score” determined. To determine the target score, seven points will be added to the leading team’s score, and the first team to the target score wins the game. For example, if one team leads 81-76, the target score would become 88.
The reason Elam developed this system was to try to eliminate intentional fouling at the end of games, which can bog down the end of contests. ESPN explains the process and detail behind the Elam Ending in greater detail here.
The favorite: Overseas Elite, who has won the past three tournaments. The Fighting Alumni (Notre Dame) won the inaugural event in 2014.