The 24-team field for The Basketball Tournament was revealed on Tuesday, and although Pitt will not field an alumni team in the event as it has in the past, three former Panthers are on TBT rosters and will compete in the tournament next month.
These 24 teams will compete for $1 MILLION in Columbus July 4-14! pic.twitter.com/ihcG7y9wkY— TBT (@thetournament) June 16, 2020
The trio includes Jamel Artis, who will play for Sideline Cancer; Gilbert Brown, who will play for Team Hines; and Ryan Luther, who will play for Herd That. Former Pitt players on teams that did not make the cut include Rozelle Nix, who was on the roster of Bearcat Jam, and Aron Nwankwo, who was on the roster of Be More City with Artis before Artis switched teams.
This year’s edition of The Basketball Tournament will be a departure from the norm for a number of reasons, most of which are related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Most notably, the tournament will be played entirely at one location in Columbus without fans. In addition, the event will only include 24 teams, meaning it will have the smallest field in the tournament’s seven-year history. And as a result of the small field and the fact that a majority of teams have yet to fill their rosters to their 12-man capacity, some late roster additions are not just possible but likely.
As for the Pitt alums whose spots in the event are currently secure, Artis and Brown will face off in the first round of the event, when No. 22 Sideline Cancer faces No. 11 Team Hines on July 5, and Luther is set to lead No. 23 Herd That, a Marshall alumni team, into a matchup with No. 10 Best Virginia, a West Virginia alumni team, the same day. The last time Luther faced a West Virginia team, which was also the only time as well as his last Pitt game, he scored 13 points and had 12 rebounds.
The trio of Pitt alums all played overseas last year. Luther, in his first year out of college, traveled to Latvia to join Ventspils, where he averaged 11.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists per game. The Gibsonia native also saw an uptick in his three-point shooting, as he sunk 44 percent of his 166 shots over a span of 42 games. Artis, also in his first year overseas after stints in the NBA and G League, averaged 13.0 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game over a total of 27 games with Parisian team Metropolitans 92 in the LNB Pro A.
Brown, a veteran entering his 10th pro season in a career spent primarily overseas, plied his trade in Israel with Hapoel Eilat, coming off the bench and seeing action as a role player. He played in just five games and averaged 3.0 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists. However, in his last period of significant action, which came in the 2016-17 season with Ironi Nahariya in Israel, Brown averaged 12.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.2 assists while shooting 42.2 percent from long range. So he will be looking to rediscover that form in July.
The tournament is set to kick off with a matchup between No. 9 Big X and No. 24 Jackson TN Underdogs on July 4. The games will be played at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, and they are set to air on the ESPN family of networks.