Team Heartfire has a cause and wants to win while spreading the word.
Team Heartfire was put together by Dr. Mark and Dr. Jeff Dyer and is sponsored by Medimpact. This caused a team of pre-med students to go into South and Central America to give free medical procedures and minor surgeries at no cost. Team Heartfire is a well-known name in TBT. This team brings back Veterans Marcus Hall, Raphiael Putney, and Craig Sword. With a 4-3 record, Team Heartfire continues tweaking and hopes to win a championship. Last year, they lost to the eventual champion, Blue Collar U won 74-66. The run was impressive, and this team was left wanting.
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- Craig Sword (Mississippi State)
- Davin White (Cal State Northridge)
- Eric Griffin (Hiwassee, Garden City CC, & Campbell)
- John Gillon (Arkansas-Little Rock, Colorado State, & Syracuse)
- Justin Tuoyo (VCU & University of Tennessee at Chattanooga)
- Larry Owens (Oral Roberts)
- Marcus Hall (Colorado)
- Raphiael Putney (Massachusetts)
- Richard Solomon (Cal-Berkeley)
- Tevin Mack (Clemson, Alabama & Texas)
- Trevion Crews (Bethel University)
- Walter Ellis (Grand Canyon University)
- Laphonso Ellis(Head Coach)
- Homer Drew (GM)
- Ron Katich (Asst. Coach)
- Stephen Dyer (Asst. Coach)
- Wichita, Kansas
Team MVP: Tevin Mack
A returner, Tevin Mack, got his toes wet last year in TBT. This year, he will need to take the next step. Mack has had some great work this year already. He played five games in Greece and shot 45.5% from 3-point range. Being able to score at will, Mack made 59.0% of 2-pointers. He averaged 18.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 0.8 assists. Standing at 6-foot-6, he should be able to create space to score quickly in TBT. In the matchup against Blue Collar U last year, he led Team Heartfire with ten points. If this team is going to win, he will need to find his shot early and often.
Tevin Mack provides a spark and intensity to this team. His emotions can ride hot, but his ability can help this team.
Make-or-break Player: Eric Griffin
This team will need a dominant big man. Eric Griffin fits that mold. He bothers people on both ends of the floor. Griffin can shoot a 3-pointer but also has some natural bounce. Griffin creates second-chance opportunities with rebounding ability and altering shots. Standing 6-foot-8, he will be a matchup issue at an ideal size to play any position three to five.
Playing in Puerto Rico and Israel, he was impressive. Griffin averaged 13.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 1.1 blocks in Puerto Rico. Before that, he averaged 16.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 0.9 blocks in his 26 games in Israel. While in Israel, Griffin shot 41.3% from 3-point range and followed it up with 31.7% in Puerto Rico. He also has some experience in the TBT, as he previously played with Friday Beers.
— TBT (@thetournament) July 20, 2023
With Team Heartfire returning several players including Craig Sword, Justin Tuoyo, Larry Owens, Marcus Hall, Raphiael Putney, and Tevin Mack, this team is full of experience. Davin White, Trevion Crews, and Eric Griffin join this squad with TBT experience. White played professionally in Mexico. He averaged 10.6 points, 1.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 0.9 steals. The lone recent college graduate, Walter Ellis, will have a rough entry in the TBT as he averaged 4.8, 2.3 rebounds, and 0.7 assists for Grand Canyon University. The other two guards are pros.
John Gillon played in Lithuania, averaging 13.8 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. He shot 38.5% from 3-point range, which should help in TBT. The other is TreVion Crews, who played in Germany. Crews averaged 9.9 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.5 steals. His ability to break up passing lanes could help Team Heartfire. Finally, the actual big man in Richard Solomon. Solomon played professionally in VTB United League. He averaged 7.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.8 blocks, and 1.1 steals. Solomon can be a disruptor but likely won’t see many minutes in the first game.
This team matches up with JucoProducts in the first round, which has some sharpshooters. As a two-seed, Team Heartfire will be the favorites. However, the chip of being an underdog is something that JUCO players play with. These players have a fight that many don’t. Team Heartfire will need to remember its cause and not take for granted this matchup. With tough matchups moving forward, this Wichita Regional will be fun to watch.