It’s that time of year again. Time for the sixth annual TBT Over the Top Battle Royale with the winner taking home $2 million.
OK, it’s not a Battle Royale, but The Basketball Tournament has been an excellent addition to the American summer basketball landscape. For the past five summers, teams comprised of former NBA and college players, hometown heroes, and international talents have competed in this tournament. What makes it different is that the winner takes home $2 million. All of it. There are no sub prizes or participation checks. Only the last team standing can take home the top prize.
Showing the games on ESPN has boosted the event perfectly and a nice apparel sponsorship by Puma doesn’t hurt either.
The bracket has a few mid-major alumni teams spread across the slate. First up, Gael Force, the Saint Mary’s alumni squad.
Gael Force will enter its second year as a TBT team. Last year, the club stormed through first two rounds of the west bracket in dominant fashion. It defeated the Air Force Bomb Squad by a score of 82-54 in round one and Few Good Men by an easy 95-48 margin in the second round. The run finally came to an end with a loss to Eberlin Drive, which later fell to Overseas Elite in the finals.
.@TheTournament recap: Gael Force dominates Hoopfest Pod to advance to Super 16 @saintmaryshoops https://t.co/C0Ptz1rDPh pic.twitter.com/Y8BYW2xr7a— Mid-Major Madness (@mid_madness) July 1, 2018
Breaking Down the Gael Force Roster
⚔️@GaelForceTBT is BACK and applying to play in the Memphis Regional⚔️— TBT (@thetournament) May 10, 2019
Can the @saintmaryshoops alumni team go from #TBT2018 Super 16 ➡️ this summer?!?#YourTeamsYourTournament pic.twitter.com/quHYCjWHmM
This team has four players over 6’5 and almost the entire roster is just coming off a college or professional career.
Let’s start with Calvin Hermanson. He’s a former two-time Gatorade State Player of the Year in his home state of Oregon. After redshirting his freshman season at SMC in 2013-14, he slowly rose the ranks. He finished his career second in school history in three-pointers made.
Stephen Holt is also from Oregon and he’s on this year’s team. Just like Hermanson, he played a full four years for the Gaels. He ended up starting 94 out of 127 games for SMC and was a consistent scorer toward the end of his career. He also had the ability to agitate players defensively while collecting steals in the process. He led the WCC in steals twice during his career. He later went on to start 44 games for the Canton Charge in the NBA G-League.
Robert Jones played a year and a half for SMC, and is notable for his rebounding prowess. Just like many others on this Gael Force team, his basketball IQ is amazing, which led to him picking up a clipboard as a grad assistant. This past season, he was on the SMC coaching staff, but this summer, Jones will be on the court.
Although the Gael Force team is made out of SMC alumni, that doesn’t mean that their experiences are limited to college. Richard McConnell, Ian O’Leary, Joe Rahon, and EJ Rowland all have played internationally and will be on this team.
McConnell, the 2011 West Coast Conference Player of the Year, has been playing professionally for eight years. He’s led various teams across Europe in assists and in last year’s TBT, he was a huge factor during Gael Force’s three games. O’Leary is another player to watch out for. Just like McConnell, he came up big in last year’s tournament. He edges out his other teammates in terms of experience with his pro career starting in 2009. He played a full four years for the Gaels from 2005 to 2009.
Rahon actually transferred into SMC from Boston College. After sitting out a year, he was part of the 29-5 team that stormed through the WCC slate and into the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.
Rowland is a new addition to this team, though he played in last year’s tournament. Rowland played for Challenge ALS and ironically was also knocked out the tournament by Eberlin Drive. This year, he’s with his SMC colleagues. Just like Rahon, he transferred into Randy Bennett’s program, playing his last two seasons for the Gaels.
Last but not least, Omar Samhan has a storied SMC legacy and his grind has not stopped. During his senior season, he led the WCC in scoring, was named an AP All-American Honorable Mention and dropped 32 points on Villanova in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. He’s played on multiple continents since that time and even made the Egyptian National Team. During last year’s TBT, he averaged a little over 17 points in a three-game stretch.
excited to help coach this group @thetournament— Dan Shell (@DanShellSports) June 11, 2019
starting as a No. 1 seed in the Memphis regional in July. @OmarSamhan
Although not being the flashy No. 1 seed that’s currently getting the buzz, this team can play. Its first game will be against the Memphis TN Underdogs in the Memphis regional on July 19.