While Boeheim’s Army and Armored Athlete are (understandably) getting most of the attention in The Basketball Tournament’s Syracuse Region, 3 seed Team Brotherly Love could be a big sleeper.
As its name suggests, Team Brotherly Love is made up of players who grew up in and around Philadelphia. “Around” is taken broadly here, as the roster that head coach and GM Tony Paris, a Philadelphia lifer, brought together includes a number of Rider standouts from the past, including Jason Thompson. But everyone has some connection to the Philadelphia area.
Growing up in Mount Laurel, NJ, Thompson learned under Paris from a young age. A 6-foot-11 power forward, he became Rider’s all-time leading rebounder and second-leading scorer. Thompson was drafted 12th overall by the Sacramento Kings in the 2008 NBA Draft, and carved out a nice career for himself in the league. He played nine seasons in the NBA before playing the past three overseas, including two seasons in the Chinese league. The 32-year-old gives Team Brotherly Love an inside presence that not many of the teams in The Basketball Tournament can match.
He’ll have plenty of help in the backcourt as well. Former Drexel guard Frantz Massenat, former Temple guard Ramone Moore, former La Salle guard Rodney Green, and former Creighton guard Maurice Watson Jr. are all on TBL TBT roster. (If you’re wondering why Watson is on the roster, it’s because he grew up in Philadelphia.)
All four have been playing professionally around the globe since finishing their collegiate careers. Moore was the sixth-man of the year in New Zealand’s NBL in 2018, so he should be able to provide some instant offense off the bench.
A few of Thompson’s former teammates, Novar Gadson and Mike Ringgold, should help bolster the interior. Gadson averaged double-figures every season during his career at Rider, scoring 1,475 points. Ringgold averaged 10.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game during his four-year career in the MAAC. Both are from Philadelphia, so this is personal for them as well. Another Philadelphia forward around the same age, former Drexel big man Samme Givens, gives TBL yet another option inside.
Samme’s brother Shannon, who played collegiately at West Chester University, is also on the roster along with monster dunker Leon Sewell, and Makal Stibbins.
A team with a similar roster fell to Team Fancy 78-70 in the first round of The Basketball Tournament back in 2017. Jason Thompson put up a double-double in that game with 14 points and 18 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough. This year’s team, though, seems much improved over that version with the addition of such versatile backcourt players as Watson, Massenat and Moore. They’ve been working out together and those players should give Team Brotherly Love the firepower it needs to potentially pull some upsets and advance deeper into the tournament.