A $2 million prize at stake and a chance to play on national television against elite former college and professional basketball players?
It’s a chance former Colorado State players Stanton Kidd and Jon Octeus couldn’t pass up.
The duo, who were teammates at CSU during the 2013-14 season, have confirmed to Gold and Green News that they will both be playing in The Basketball Tournament that began on July 9, albeit on different teams.
The tournament, abbreviated to TBT, is in its third year of existence, and brings together players from all over the United States, most of which played collegiately and/or professionally in the NBA, D-League or overseas. Some of the most notable former players include ex-Sacramento Kings guard Mike Bibby, Brian “The White Mamba” Scalabrine, NBA champion Dahntay Jones and ex-Spurs sharpshooter Matt Bonner.
How it works
One player, or non-player, signs the team up and is designated as the general manager. From there, he/she recruits whoever they want to play on their team, as long as they are 18 or older and willing to give up amateur status. The GM and players then usually turn to social media to help recruit fans to their team’s cause. The more fans that register for a team, the better the chances they have of getting into the tournament.
Hundreds of teams apply each spring to play, but only 64 are chosen based on the number of fan votes they receive. The final four teams from the previous year are also given automatic bids to the next year’s tournament.
The 64 teams are then split up into four regions — West, Midwest, South and Northeast — and are seeded. From there, it plays out much like the NCAA Tournament, with first- and second-round games played at regional sites in Los Angeles (West), Charlotte (South), Chicago (Midwest) and Philadelphia (Northeast). The 16 teams who advance through the first two rounds then move on to the Super 16 in Philadelphia July 22-23. After the Super 16 and Final 8, which are televised on ESPN2, the final four teams travel to New York City for two more games and the chance at a $2 million prize, spilt 90-10 between the players on the team and its top fans.
Previous winners include the Notre Dame Fighting Alumni (2014) and Overseas Elite (2015).
Kidd recently completed his first season with Limburg United of the Belgian Scooore League, while helping to lead his team to the semifinal round of the league’s postseason tournament, where they fell to four-time defending champions Telenet BC Oostende.
Playing a little more than 19 minutes per game, Kidd averaged 8.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per contest while shooting better than 55 percent from the floor.
The 6-foot-7 forward also got a chance to play against former CSU teammate J.J. Avila, who starred for the Leuven Bears. The teams split a pair of regular season matchups, with Kidd scoring a game-high 18 points in Limburg United’s 110-78 home win over Leuven.
Despite their busy practice and game schedules, Kidd and Avila were able to connect a few times after games and Avila attended two of Kidd’s playoff games after the regular season.
Kidd was hoping to be reunited on Team TMD (Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork) this weekend with former South Plains Junior College teammate and Ole Miss standout Marshall Henderson, who is the team’s GM and point guard. However, Kidd will have to miss the first two games of the tournament due to a scheduling conflict with a showcase tournament in Las Vegas through his agency, Worldwide Sports Marketing.
If TMD advances to the Super 16, though, Kidd will be able to rejoin the team in Philadelphia, which is only a two-hour drive from his hometown of Baltimore.
Despite a productive first season, Kidd’s contract with Limburg United was not renewed at the end of the season, and he’ll have the chance to play in front of hundreds of international scouts and coaches at the event. He has already received interest from a number of professional teams, but it hopeful he can draw the attention of even more people with a strong performance at the showcase.
While he’s in Vegas, Kidd even hopes to catch up with former CSU guard Antwan Scott, who is in Sin City playing for the Denver Nuggets’ summer league team, and CSU head coach Larry Eustachy, who is expected to be out recruiting in Vegas at the same time.
Though TBT has grown substantially in the past three years, Kidd had never even heard of it until Henderson called him earlier this year and asked him if he wanted to play. He agreed to play, as long as Henderson walked him through how to sign up.
“He (Marshall) gave me my budget, and I told him what I’d be comfortable making because anything that I was going to get money-wise from playing the game of basketball I’d be happy with because it was more than what I had already. I wasn’t really worried about the money, but I definitely think it’s a good opportunity to play, to be on TV, and hopefully showcase my talent and play good basketball…”
“…I really hope those guys can make it out of the first two rounds, because it’s kind of like I’m going out here (to Vegas) to get my for-sure job guaranteed for next year, but the TBT is this big thing that I can go and play in, and also possibly win it. If we did, some things could really change in my life and my family’s life.”
Henderson and Kidd are joined on the team by fellow South Plains alum Malcolm Miller, former Wisconsin forward Michael Bruesewitz, former Ole Miss standouts Aaron Jones and Christopher Warren, as well as former Houston Rockets guard Bob Young and former Arkansas forward Marshawn Powell, among others.
The group mostly consists of former teammates or friends of Henderson, who played at South Plains and Ole Miss before playing professionally in Qatar and Iraq, as well as a stint with the NBA D-League’s Reno Bighorns.
“Some of the guys are from Ole Miss, some are guys he played in the SEC, and then myself and Malcolm Miller played with him in junior college,” Kidd said. “Us three know each other very well, and Marshall hit me up earlier this year and asked me if I wanted to play. I actually had a couple teams ask me if I wanted to play after Marshall did. (Former Kansas guard) Josh Selby, who is the GM for Team BDB, he’s from Baltimore, too, and he came to me about a week ago and asked if I had signed with a team.”
Kidd’s teammate in Belgium, Jordan Hulls, is also the GM of Team Armored Athlete, and asked Kidd to play, but Kidd didn’t want to leave Henderson and the team he had already committed to looking for a player this late.
Ironically, Hulls will be teaming up with Octeus for Armored Athlete. They’re joined by former Indiana standouts Will Shelley and Christian Watford, as well as former Butler guard Roosevelt Jones and others.
Octeus, who graduated from Colorado State and transferred to Purdue for his final season eligibility, was drafted by the Texas Legends 3rd pick of the 5th round in the NBA D-League draft after playing with Indiana Pacers’ summer league team in Orlando.
After that didn’t pan out, Octeus went overseas to play in Germany, but was sidelined by injury for the entire season.
Kidd hoped to have a chance to play against Selby and Co., which would come if both teams won their first-round games, but will have to miss the potential matchup because of the Las Vegas showcase tournament. TMD and Armored Athlete are on opposite sides of the bracket, though, so a Kidd-Octeus showdown would only happen if both teams reached the championship game.
Team TMD began its pursuit of the $2 million prize Saturday with a win and will play at 12:30 MT Sunday, while Armored Athlete will begin its quest for the title July 16 at 9:45 a.m. MT. The regional rounds will be streamed for free exclusively on Whistle Sports’ Facebook page, which can be found here.
Brackets and more information about the teams, the tournament and more can be found at the thetournament.com.
Keegan Pope is a writer and digital producer for GoldandGreenNews.com. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ByKeeganPope for all the latest news on Colorado State.