The Basketball Tournament is becoming increasingly popular each year, which has led to many former NBA players and current overseas stars competing for the $2 million prize. TBT is now so mainstream that all of this year’s games from the Sweet 16 through the championship will be televised on ESPN.
One former NBA player who has played in the tournament every year since its inception is Josh Selby, who previously played for the Memphis Grizzlies and is now starring overseas.
This year, Selby has assembled a squad named “TeamBDB” that has many notable names. Every single player on TeamBDB has NCAA and overseas experience. Joining Selby (Kansas University, NBA, overseas) on the team is Durand Scott (University of Miami, overseas), LaceDarius Dunn (Baylor University, overseas), Yancy Gates (University of Cincinnati, overseas), Justin Jackson (University of Cincinnati, overseas), Ibrahima Thomas (University of Cincinnati, overseas), Cleveland Melvin (DePaul University, overseas), Kris Clark (Utah State University, overseas), Brian Smith (Widener University, overseas), Daishon Knight (Illinois State University, overseas), Travis Hyman (Bowie State University, NBA D-League) among others. Former overseas player and current NBA trainer Andre Oupoh is coaching the team.
Washington Wizards star John Wall has joined TeamBDB as one of their boosters, showing his support by helping them get fans to register on TheTournament.com and attending their early-round games in Charlotte. (Full discloser: I am also a booster for TeamBDB).
TBT ranks its teams by fan votes and by experience points (which gives each player points based on their college, overseas and NBA experience). TeamBDB has the most experience points of any team in the South Region and the sixth-most experience of any team in The Basketball Tournament.
If TeamBDB wins, their top registered fans on TheTournament.com will receive $200,000 of the $2,000,000 prize.
Last year, Selby and former Dallas Mavericks shooting guard Dominique Jones played together, but their squad was missing several players who were finishing their season overseas or playing in the NBA’s Summer League. Among the registered players who couldn’t participate last year were Willie Reed (who signed with the Brooklyn Nets after a dominant Summer League performance), Jermaine Taylor (who previously played for the Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings) and Durand Scott (who played with the Milwaukee Bucks’ Summer League squad).
I recently caught up with Selby to discuss his stints overseas (he’s played in China, Croatia, Israel and Turkey), how he assembled TeamBDB and much more.
Basketball Insiders: You put together TeamBDB and assembled a lot of notable players. How did you build this squad?
Josh Selby: “I’ve known these guys for a long time. I think the guy I’ve known the shortest is Yancy Gates, but we have two of his college teammates in Justin Jackson and Ibrahima Thomas. I just wanted to get a group of guys that I know will play aggressive and give us a balanced team. I could’ve went and gotten a lot of ex-NBA players, but it would’ve been a lot of scorers and all of the pieces may not have fit together, you know what I mean? I wanted a group of guys that had good chemistry on and off the court.”
BI: This is your third year in The Basketball Tournament, so you’re a TBT veteran now. What did you learn from the first two experiences?
Selby: “The first year taught me that the tournament isn’t fake. A lot of people weren’t sure about it, since they came out of nowhere and were putting up a lot of money as a prize. But it’s organized and legitimate. The second year, I learned that you can’t have too many of the same type of players on the team. You need a balance – a mix of role players, defensive players, scorers. It takes that to win this tournament. It’s take more than just talent, it takes the right skills. I definitely learned we need coaching too. Last year, we didn’t have a coach. Now, we have a coach (Andre Oupoh) who will add structure to the team, provide discipline and be our leader on the sideline.”
BI: Last year, your team lost to an opponent with great chemistry because they had played over 100 games together. I know you’re doing a training camp and practices this year. How important is that?
Selby: “We’re going to have practices and a three or four-day camp in Baltimore or New Jersey. That’ll help chemistry. But it does help that some of our guys have played together. As I said, Ibrahima, Justin and Yancy played together at Cincinnati. Durand and I played together in mini-camps and we trained together in Las Vegas. I have my younger brother, Daishon Knight, on the team and he is going to be a sleeper. Cleveland Melvin is a good friend. We know each other, but practices will help too. If we can just get that balanced attack and have our off-court relationships translate on the court, I think it’ll work perfectly. If our chemistry translates to the court, we’re a dangerous team. A lot of these teams have good players though. If they can click too, there’s plenty of teams that could be really good in this tournament. But I think the team with the most aggression, heart and toughness is going to win it, and I think we’re capable of being that team.”
BI: You have four guys who are 6’9 or bigger (including a legit seven-footer). Watching the games last year, some teams didn’t have much size at all. Can that be an advantage for TeamBDB?
Selby: “It’s definitely important because height always matters. Those guys are huge on the boards, on the defensive end and down low. They definitely make a big impact on each game. I tried to balance out our bigs. We have one who is physical and takes up the paint in Yancy Gates. We have a great athlete who can do a little bit of everything, sort of like our Dennis Rodman, in Justin Jackson. We have Travis Hyman, who I have told, ‘Be our Steven Adams.’ Ibrahima Thomas is a versatile big who can do it all.”
BI: You played overseas this year. How did that go?
Selby: “I’ve been in Turkey this year. I played in Israel last year, but I was in Turkey this season. I was in the second league; I was supposed to be in the first league, but it didn’t work out because I waited too long to accept the offer. But I was the leading scorer there and it definitely put me in a good position for next year. I haven’t given up on the NBA. I’ll try to get back someday.”
BI: Have you enjoyed playing overseas? I know a lot of players who have loved it because they expanded their game and gained so much life experience. What’s it been like for you?
Selby: “It’s been good. Some of the fans are like soccer fans, so there’s a crazy atmosphere. It’s like a college atmosphere. I liked living overseas. When I was playing in Israel, I lived on the beach. I had never been to a beach before, and then I was waking up every day hearing the wind and water. It was so nice. There’s really good competition overseas too. I play against a lot of guys who I went against in college or in AAU camps. There are some really good players overseas.”
BI: John Wall is your booster for TeamBDB. He tweeted out a video in support of the squad. How did you get John involved and how do you guys know each other?
Selby: “We have a good relationship. We played against each other in high school and it was competitive. We were both dogs. We built a good friendship off the court ever since then because we have the utmost respect for each other. We stayed in contact. I asked him for a small favor and he agreed to do it. Shout out to John Wall for doing that. I appreciate it.”
Make sure to follow Basketball Insiders on Twitter at @BBallInsiders.