Region 8 hoopers will compete for $1 million for Team Arkansas in The Basketball Tournament
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - Practicing for a chance to win $1 million, that’s what Team Arkansas TBT is doing all week, as they prepare to compete in The Basketball Tournament.
It’s a collection of Arkansas icons. Created four years ago, the team features several blasts from the Razorback past like Jaylen Barford and Courtney Fortson, even as recent as Trey Wade from last year’s Elite Eight Squad.
“It’s definitely got that Create-A-Team vibe,” Westside alum Hunter Mickelson said. “We got a lot of Arkansas vets, which I know everybody’s gonna love to see. We got guys like Sonny [Weems] and Courtney [Fortson], those two guys, big names as far as Arkansas goes.”
But it’s not just former Hogs. Several Region 8 connections are on the team, seven in total.
“It’s a great collection of talent,” Jonesboro alum Kahron Ross said. “This is my first time playing with all of the guys, some of the guys I played against, some of the guys I’ve known just from watching, and hopefully we can make some noise in the tournament.”
For first-year Head Coach Monty Patel, an Arkansas State graduate, gathering this group reminded him of his A-State days.
“I kind of liken it to my days at Arkansas State of playing intramurals and recruiting teams,” Patel said. “Six degrees of separation, figure out who we can find and just try to put the best roster together.”
It was Patel and West Memphis native and three-time CBA Champion Sonny Weems who constructed the roster.
The recruiting pitch, not as difficult as you’d expect.
“The TBT, the $1 million really speaks for itself,” Weems said. “In the summertime, a lot of guys sitting at home, training, and what better way to come try to win a million dollars than to play basketball, something you’ve been doing all your life?”
All games will be on the ESPN family of networks, with the national exposure, this team, with new additions like Ross and Wade, looks to bounce back from their second-round elimination last year.
“A lot of exposure, you play on ESPN, I mean, what other exposure are you gonna get,” Weems said with a laugh. “You don’t get ESPN playing in your backyard.”
They’ll look to do it with one of their biggest strengths: Experience.
“We got guys from China, middle Europe, all over the world and it helps,” Mickelson added. “It’s almost like AAU ball in a sense because guys are playing year-round all over the place and when you get that consistency and you’re always in that mode, it always helps in a situation like this.”
Team Arkansas is the two seed in the Omaha region. They will play their Round of 64 game Saturday afternoon at 1:00 PM on ESPN3.
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