The 24-team field for the 2020 edition of The Basketball Tournament is set to be announced on Tuesday, and while Pitt will not have an alumni team in the mix, the program will likely have a few alums in the tournament on different teams. One former Pitt star set to take part in the event is Jamel Artis, who joined Sideline Cancer over the weekend.
Our Sideline Cancer basketball team is excited to welcome Jamel Artis to our family! We look forward to having the former Pitt standout wearing the purple in @thetournament! This past season he played for the— Sideline Cancer TBT (@SidelineTBT) June 14, 2020
Levallois Metropolitans in France! Follow Him at @melartis1 pic.twitter.com/XwQGcqa11w
"Our Sideline Cancer basketball team is excited to welcome Jamel Artis to our family," read a message posted on the team's Twitter page on Sunday afternoon. "We look forward to having the former Pitt standout wearing the purple in [The Basketball Tournament]."
Artis spent his entire collegiate career at Pitt, committing to Jamie Dixon in 2013 and finishing his time as a Panther under Kevin Stallings in 2017. Since then, he has moved on to the professional ranks, but he has not forgotten his time in Pittsburgh.
“I miss those times at the Peterson Events Center,” Artis said in a statement provided to Cardiac Hill. “The Oakland Zoo was amazing. We had a connection that will last forever. I felt disappointed when losing at home in front of them, but they was still amazing.”
“As for the TBT, this will be my first time playing in this,” Artis continued. “I’m excited. I always just watch the TBT on TV, and I’m happy to go out there and compete.”
Initially, Artis was a member of tournament hopeful Be More City along with former Pitt teammate Aron Nwankwo. However, the team did not develop a large following and was informed on June 5 that it would not make the cut for the tournament. As a result, Artis found a new team in Sideline Cancer, which ended the run of the Zoo Crew, a Pitt alumni squad, in the first round of the 2017 tournament.
With that said, the Untouchables, a Pitt alumni team that preceded the Zoo Crew, knocked Sideline Cancer out in the first round of the 2016 tournament, so Pitt alums and the purple-clad team have a history. And as for Sideline Cancer, the team has been in every edition of The Basketball Tournament, which dates back to 2014, and as such, it is widely regarded as a likely selection on Tuesday. In addition, the team is not just competing to entertain fans during a global crisis, but also to achieve a greater goal as outlined by Sideline Cancer general manager Billy Clapper.
“Each year of TBT, the Sideline Cancer basketball team has come together to play," Clapper said on Sideline Cancer's TBT page. "And what we have played for is something bigger. We are playing to raise awareness, to inspire the next generation of what they can use their gifts to be, and we believe always that one day a cure will be found.”
Aside from Artis, Sideline Cancer currently consists of former Xavier shooting guard Remy Abell, former Santa Clara shooting guard Raymond Cowells III, former Indiana shooting guard Maurice Creek, former Oklahoma power forward Andrew Fitzgerald, former East Stroudsburg small forward Duane Johnson, former Central Michigan point guard Marcus Keene, former Tennessee Tech small forward Kevin Murphy, former Pacific center Eric Thompson and former Southeastern Louisiana power forward Zwencyl Upson.
Since leaving Pitt, Artis has had stints in the G League and NBA as a member of the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Clippers organizations. He also spent the 2017 and 2018 offseasons with the New York Knicks and Sacramento Kings organizations, respectively, but Artis never saw significant action with either team. As a result, the Baltimore native decided to ply his trade overseas last season and had a solid run in Paris with Metropolitans 92 of France’s LNB Pro A. Artis averaged 13.0 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game over a total of 27 games of which he started 26.
Should Sideline Cancer be selected on Tuesday, Artis will likely play a key role in the team’s success as the only former Division I small forward on the roster. In addition, he should form an interesting pairing with Fitzgerald, a fellow Baltimore native and a former recruit of current Pitt head coach Jeff Capel's from his time at Oklahoma.