Reputation, Recolation, and the TBT – Nostalgia of Former Hoop Stars: Part One

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photo via: The Basketball Tournament

The Basketball Tournament finished its seventh season with the Golden Eagles beating Sideline Cancer. There were twenty four teams competing in the 2020 TBT (including nine alumni teams) who traveled to Columbus.

The teams had to isolate themselves in their own bubble and had to be tested regularly in order to play. The tournament has grown substantially in its existence while growing in teams and viewership.

It seems like the names who participate in the tournament get bigger every year thus grabbing our eye and keeping us glued to it. TBT has featured several prominent names including Jimmer Fredette, Duncan Robinson, Perry Ellis, Jared Sullinger, and many more.

However, it isn’t always the big names that catch our eye but it can be the smaller ones that we may remember from their college days. The type of player who you think of one day and wonder what happened to them, a player who seemingly exited the limelight as soon as they graduated.

These articles are designed to remember all those heroes who at one point dominated water cooler conversations around the office and are now trying to win a championship on a different stage – the TBT stage.

Basketball Society writers, T.J. Oxley and Randy King will be going through each of the twenty four teams in our four part series and remind you of each TBT team’s star.

Here are TJ’s first six TBT stars.

Kellen Dunham – Big X

When the opportunity to go play at Hinkie Fieldhouse for Butler came, Dunham was ready. A former ESPN-Top 100 recruit who was known as a sharpshooter, he put up 18 points off the bench in his first game coming off the bench in the 2012-2013 season. He would later be named to the All-Atlantic Rookie Team for the season. That Butler team would later be named a six seed in the NCAA Tournament.

As a Sophomore, Dunham emerged as a leader for a Butler team that struggled as he upped his scoring average from 9.5 PPG to 16.4 PPG as he became a regular starter. His highlight of the year would come in a 30 point scoring outburst in an overtime win against DePaul.

In the Junior campaign, Dunham would lead Butler back to the NCAA tournament (again as a six seed) and would continue to impress, but increasing his shooting percentages thus earning him a spot on the All-Big East First Team and a spot on the All-District V team by the USBWA. Following a senior year Dunham would again average around 16 PPG for the third year in a row and earn an Honorable Mention All-Atlantic Ten spot. 

After going undrafted, Dunham signed with the Memphis Grizzlies to join their summer league roster, but after being waived in October he would play for the Iowa Energy. In 2017, Dunham would play in the Belgian Basketball League before returning to the G-League in 2018 for the Capital City Go-Go where he remains til the present day. 2020 isn’t the first year we’ve seen Dunham in the TBT as he played in 2017 for the Broad Street Brawlers. 

DJ Newbill -Brotherly Love

A product of the Philadelphia basketball system growing up, DJ was rated by Rivals as the 111th player in the class of 2010. Newbill accepted an offer to go play at Southern Miss where he immediately started and earned all C-USA All-Freshman Team honors. Following the season, he decided to transfer back to his home state and enrolled at Penn State and per NCAA rules he sat out the 2011-2012 season.

Newbill was ready for the challenge as his redshirt sophomore season began he was named team captain and a starter. He ended up leading the team in points and assists while being second in rebounds and steals while earning Honorable Mention All-Big Ten honors.

His junior and senior years he would be named to the All-Big Ten Second Team and his senior year awarded NABC all-district 7 team. His senior year he would average 20.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 3.1 APG. 

Following his Penn State career, he competed in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. He would go undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft, but would join the Clippers Summer League team. He wasn’t invited to join the Clippers or G-League team and he joined ASVEL, a team in France. He would later play in Belgium, Turkey, and New Zealand leading to the present day.

Jon Elmore – Herd That

Next to the incredible run of Sideline Cancer, Herd That was the other TBT team to make serious waves as a Cinderella story. Surprisingly enough it was Jon’s brother Ot who turned into the star of the team for his story, but if you don’t know Jon you should. He is the son of Gay Elmore who was the all-time leading scorer at VMI where Jon committed to and enrolled to start his career. Due to some personal reasons Jon left VMI to be close to home and eventually enrolled at Marshall where he wouldn’t be eligible until midway through the 2015-2016 season where he immediately found himself inserted into the starting lineup.

In the 2016-2017 season, Elmore received First Team All Conference honors which he would receive for three years consecutively. In his Junior year, Jon Elmore led Marshall to a C-USA tournament championship and a berth in the NCAA tournament where they upset Wichita State in the first round. He would declare for the NBA Draft after the junior season before deciding to come back for his senior season. In his senior season, Elmore would reach several milestones including becoming the C-USA’s all-time leading scorer, Marshall’s all-time leading scorer, C-USA’s all-time assist leader, and the only D1 player to record over 2,500 points and 750 assists. 

Going undrafted in 2019, Elmore got the opportunity to play for the Boston Celtics summer league squad. He then signed a contract with Pallacanestro Trieste of the Italian league for the 2019-2020 season. He now plays for Orlandina Basket in Italy’s second division.

Mike Daum – House of Paign

It hasn’t been that long since we all saw “The Dauminator” on SportsCenter frequently but it feels like it has. Daum was a little known recruit from a small town in Nebraska in the class of 2014. He redshirted his first season at South Dakota State. In 2015-2016, Daum earned the “Summit League’s Sixth Man of the Year” award. He would go on to win four “All-Summit First Team” awards while being named the Player of the Year in the conference for three straight years.

He would play in three NCAA tournament games for SDSU including an impressive 27 point performance against Ohio State in the 2018 tournament. Daum would be the Summit’s All Time leading scorer during his Jack Rabbit career and a household name for college hoop fans everywhere as he became the tenth player in D1 history to top the 3,000 career point mark. He was a two time AP Second Team All American and had a four year career averaging 22.4 points and 9.0 rebound.

Daum signed with the Portland Trail Blazers after going undrafted in the 2019 NBA Draft. He played well enough to gather international interest and signed a contract to play for Monbus Obradorio of the Liga ACB in Spain. 

Nick Johnson – The Money Team

A former Top-50 recruit of Findlay Prep, Nick Johnson signed with the University of Arizona. In his freshman season at Arizona, Nick started 28 of 35 games and earned Pac-12 Conference Freshman of the Year honors. Johnson became a pest on the defensive end of the floor his sophomore year after bumping his steal totals to 1.9 per game while starting every game and improving on the offensive end.

His junior season saw an absolute explosion as Nick won PAC-12 Conference Player of the Year, First Team All Conference, and was named to the PAC-12 All Defense team. He would average 16.3 PPG, 4.1 RPG, and 2.8 APG. 

Nick was selected in the second round of the 2014 NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets. After an impressive NBA Summer League, he signed to play with Houston but had multiple D-‘League assignments through the year.

In 2015 he was traded to the Nuggets in a deal centered around Ty Lawson, he was later waived after a handful of preseason games. Johnson would play in the G-League for the Austin Spurs (two stints) and the Wisconsin Herd while also playing in Germany, France, and Turkey. He currently plays in the Turkish league with Turk Telekom.

Joe Johnson – Overseas Elite

‘Iso Joe’ should need no introduction anywhere in the basketball world. A 20,000 point NBA scorer, 7x NBA All-Star, 2002 All-Rookie Second Team, and many others. Joe would grow up in Little Rock, Arkansas before accepting an offer to play collegiately in state at the University of Arkansas.

As a freshman in the 1999-2000 season he was named to the SEC All-Freshman team after averaging 16 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 2.2 APG, and 2.0 STL. Arkansas would go on to win the SEC tournament that season. In his second season he would earn Second Team All-SEC and Honorable Mention All-American honors. 

Johnson would then declare for the NBA Draft and get drafted 10th by the Celtics only soon to be shipped to Phoenix. In 2005, he left the Suns to join the Hawks where he would play until 2012. While in Atlanta, Johnson would be named to six straight All-Star teams and in the 06-07 season he would average a career high 25 PPG.

His time in Atlanta would end when he bolted to join the Brooklyn Nets from 2012 to 2016. He would then split the next three years in Miami, Utah, back to Houston, and Detroit. In 2019, Joe competed in the Big 3 playing for the Triplets and won the Big 3 championship taking home MVP honors. Even at 39 there still seems to be a belief that after the TBT is over he may get a chance to join the NBA bubble to help out a team in need to finish out the NBA season.


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