The B1 Ballers are back for their third year, chasing the team’s first win.
The B1 Ballers return for their third year in The Basketball Tournament. After first-round knockouts in the past two years, the B1 Ballers return to Wichita in hopes of breaking the streak. Last year, they lost by just one point to the Air Raiders in the opening round. This year, the selection committee didn’t do them many favors, pairing them with the Aftershocks in Wichita. This team feels like they have what it takes to win, and will get to prove themselves for soon.
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- Charlie Marquardt (Malloy College)
- Christian Nobles (USC Aiken)
- Isiah Dasher (Portland & Saint Peter’s)
- Jachai Simmons (University of New Mexico)
- Jevonlean Hedgeman (San Jacinto College & Louisiana Lafayette)
- Keyron Sheard (Cecil College & University of Tennessee-Chattanooga)
- Kyle Steward (Youngstown State & UMKC)
- Michael Durr (South Florida, Indiana, & UCF)
- Nathaniel Pollard Jr. (University of Maryland Eastern Shore)
- Parker Stewart (Pitt, Indiana, & UT Martin)
- Rayshawn Simmons (Central Michigan)
- Ty Jordan (Malone University)
- Jerry Castello (GM, Head Coach)
- Bill Zasowki (Asst. Coach)
- Wichita, Kansas
Team MVP: Jachai Simmons
Playing this year in The Basketball League, Jachai Simmons was one of the better 3-point shooters as a member of the Sky Kings. While he did not score many points, he was an intelligent player. Simmons knew when to shoot and was a cog for the Sky Kings. He shot 60.4% from the field and 42.1% from 3-point range. Simmons did not shoot more than four 3-pointers often, was efficient when he did, something that’s important in a shorter format like the TBT. Simmons all around balanced play is what the B1 Ballers need in order to make things interesting in Wichita.
Make-or-break Player: Christian Nobles
Another product of the TBL, Nobles is the B1 Ballers’ floor general. He averaged 19.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 7.8 assists, and 1.6 steals. Having the ability to not only score but also distribute at a high level is a gift for any basketball player, and Nobles can do just that. Defensively, he will be able to be a pest on the perimeter as we saw at the pro level.
He is not a great 3-point shooter, and Nobles shoots 28.6% from 3-point range. This could be an issue for the B1 Ballers with how TBT plays. This team could rely on the 3-pointers, which could be the downfall. Nobles will need to continue playing his game for the B1 Ballers to succeed. With teams that are not disciplined, crashing defenders on Nobles and his ability to find the open shooter will be vital.
B1 Ballers’ FULL TBT ROSTER🏀 pic.twitter.com/TqnTVYDTaJ
— TBT (@thetournament) July 18, 2023
This team has some natural scorers on it. Kyle Steward is a threat in the paint with his ability to put up points. In Belize, he averaged 20.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.4 blocks. His ability to cause issues down low could create run-outs and force teams into outside shots. TBL product Ty Jordan averaged 18.8 points a game, 5.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.1 steals. Jordan has some firepower in his arsenal. He shot 34.5% from 3-point range and 53.8% from the field. Jachai Simmons’s teammate in the TBL was Jevonlean Hedgeman, a power forward. Hedgeman averaged 13.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 2.0 steals. He is another intelligent player, and the tandem could cause severe issues in matchups.
Some players who just finished college basketball could come in and help out. Parker Stewart averaged 16.1 points and shot 37.2% from 3-point range at UT Martin. Isiah Dasher averaged 13.0 points and shot 31.3% from 3-point range at St. Peter’s. Nathaniel Pollard played at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, averaging 9.9 points.
B1 Ballers have an unfortunate draw in the AfterShocks where they will be no doubt playing in a hostile environment. No one can be counted out in TBT, but the B1 Ballers will need to get hot from outside and keep up the pressure. This team wants to play spoiler and must step up against the AfterShocks.