In familiar territory, the Jackson TN Underdawgs are trying to play giant-killer again.
No longer an 8 seed, the Jackson TN Underdawgs, all with connections to Jackson, Tennessee, take on TBT 2023. Still riding momentum from their 2021 run, they draw the Eberlein Drive in the first round of the Louisville regional.
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- Anthony Sampson (Freed-Hardeman)
- Antwan Long (Lambuth)
- Chris Jones (Louisville)
- Cornelius Hudson (Wake Forest)
- Dedric Boyd (Eastern Kentucky, Illinois State, and Tennessee State)
- Desonta Bradford (ETSU)
- George Stanberry (Volunteer State CC)
- Jaylen Barford (Arkansas)
- Jordon Varnado (Troy)
- Leland Robinson (Walter State CC and Tennessee Wesleyan)
- Tarius Johnson (Eastern Kentucky)
- Tevin Glass (Wichita State and ETSU)
- Darius Deberry (GM)
- Dexter Williams (Head Coach)
- Terrell Green (Asst. Coach)
Team MVP: Jaylen Barford
Barford, a former JUCO transfer from Motlow State, played two seasons at Arkansas under Mike Anderson, averaging 15.3 PPG over 71 games for the Razorbacks. The Jackson, Tennessee native was first in the SEC in 2017-2018 in FGM. After going undrafted, Barford has spent time in the G League, Italy, Egypt, Kazakhstan, and Russia.
A tall point guard at 6’3”, Barford has a knack for scoring and has done so at TBT before, both with Jackson TN Underdawgs and Team Arkansas. Barford averaged over 20 PPG with Jackson in his first stint with them. Barford is a safe bet to be the leading scorer for the Underdawgs again this year as they seek another run to the quarterfinals.
Make-or-break Player: Desonta Bradford
Bradford, one of two former Buccaneers on the Jackson TN Underdawgs roster, was the 2017-2018 SoCon player of the year. In that same year, Bradford led the SoCon in SPG with 1.9, ranked 2nd in the conference in FGM, 4th in PPG, and 16th in the NCAA in defensive win shares. He’s a great scorer, but he’s even better on defense, specifically on the perimeter.
A tall, lanky guard at 6’4”, 185, Bradford should be ½ of a great backcourt duo with Jaylen Barford. Bradford was born in Humboldt, Tennessee, directly north of Jackson. Bradford’s performance will directly coincide with the Underdawgs’ fortunes in this year’s TBT.
Led by Barford and Bradford, the Jackson TN Underdawgs are well-suited to pull off a few more upsets this year. As the 6 seed in the Louisville regional, the Underdawgs face off against the 3 seed, Eberlein Drive, and they’ve got a solid chance to shock the perennial power. Johnny O’Bryant, Matt Mobley, and Tyler Larson are all out for the first-round game, and DJ Cooper is questionable. All members of the Underdawgs are active, so there’s strength in numbers in this case, especially with depth.
In addition to Bradford and Barford, Tevin Glass, another former Buccaneer, and George Stanberry out of Volunteer State should make an impact for Jackson as well. This team has the talent to knock out the Drive, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Underdawgs win multiple games. Their second-round game, if they were to win against Eberlein Drive, would either be against The Ville, the Louisville alumni team, or War Ready, the Auburn alumni team.
image via @thetournament