Former Hoosiers to take shot at $2 million in TBT

A year ago, Indiana University fans were drawn into a unique summer basketball event by a trio of former Hoosiers.

Now those Hoosiers and a number of others are back for another attempt to cash in — literally — on their skills.

The Basketball Tournament is gearing up for its third year of existence, and the winning team will haul in $2 million in the winner-take-all event. That prize is up from $500,000 in 2014 and $1 million in 2015.

Jordan Hulls, Will Sheehey and Christian Watford are joining forces for the second straight year in an effort to win the big prize as members of the Armored Athlete team, and another former Hoosier, Cody Zeller, is lending his support to the cause as the team booster.

The Basketball Tournament — TBT for short — is an open-application tournament, but as it is not NBA-sanctioned, to this point no current NBA players have been willing to risk their contracts or health to participate. That leaves the likes of Zeller to simply campaign for his former teammates, but campaigning is just another way TBT is different.

Fans have a say in who participates in the event and can even grab a share of the prize money themselves.

The 64-team tournament will place 16 teams in each region — Philadelphia, Charlotte, Chicago and Los Angeles — with the 12 teams in each region with the most fan votes at www.thetournament.com as of June 1 earning an automatic berth. The other four teams will consist of at-large bids.

Armored Athlete currently sits fifth in the Midwest Region voting, but well behind teams consisting of Kansas State alumni and Kentucky alumni and just ahead of a team of Michigan State alumni. Fans who participate in voting and recruit others to vote accumulate points and will be placed at different earning levels should their team win TBT. The top fan receives $20,000, four fans get $10,000, 15 fans get $4,000 and 80 fans will receive $1,000.

Armored Athlete reached the elite eight of last year’s tournament before falling to eventual runner-up Ants Alumni, which included former IU player Rod Wilmont. The Ants are also back this year, but Wilmont is not on the roster to this point.

Other Hoosiers are dotting various rosters though.

Also in the Midwest, Jeff Howard has joined All Sports Series, which ranks 35th in fan voting.

Maurice Creek is a member of the Young Kings squad, which currently ranks just 22nd in fan voting in the Northeast Region.

And while his name hasn’t officially appeared on a roster yet, Jordan Crawford is rumored to be joining TBT.

Play begins July 9 with the final game coming Aug. 2 on ESPN.