In its third year of existence, The Basketball Tournament continues to grow as it seeks to save us from the doldrums of the late-summer sports calendar. What started as a $500,000 winner-take-all tournament in 2014 doubled to $1 million last year and doubled again to $2 million this year. As the prize has increased, so too has the talent level of the competitors. The defending champs, Overseas Elite, boast a roster full of former college stars playing overseas (as the name would suggest). City of Gods boasts two former NBA Top 10 draft picks (much closer in ability to Darko than LeBron, but still). Even Mike Bibby and Jason Williams are playing on a team together.
Last year, Will Sheehey formed the Armored Athlete team with his former trainer, AJ Mahar. Sheehey brought along former Hoosier teammates Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford, and the trio led Armored Athlete to the Midwest Regional final before being eliminated. This year, Armored Athlete has returned to the Super 16 after probably the most dominating first weekend performance out of anyone in the tournament. As the seven seed in the Midwest, Armored Athlete employed lock-down defense to blow out Midwest Dream Team 92-60 and the Canton Bulldogs 101-72. Those scores don't necessarily do Armored Athlete's defensive dominance justice. TBT typically consists of free-flowing, up-and-down affairs (especially in the early rounds), so what Armored Athlete has done so far is very impressive. Sheehey led all scorers with 20 points in the first game before resting against the Bulldogs, and Hulls paced Armored Athlete with 12 points (4-5 3pt FG) and five assists against Canton. Watford is still trying to find his shot, but it's very promising that Armored Athlete has managed to shine despite his early struggles. Should the team break through and win this year's edition of TBT, Sheehey, Hulls, and Watford would have paydays of $150,000, $150,000, and $100,000, respectively.
Next up for Armored Athlete is a matchup with a team comprised of Marquette alumni, spearheaded by former Lakers Darius Johnson-Odom and Dwight Buycks. As the matchups become more competitive, the quality of coverage increases. Instead of internet feeds, the remainder of TBT games will be broadcast by the ESPN family of networks. You can catch Sheehey, Hulls, and Watford in action against the Golden Eagles Alumni on Friday at 7 PM EST on ESPN2.