Prior to last summer, there wasn’t much buzz around The Basketball Tournament, a high-stakes winner-take-all style tournament where the winning team takes home $2 million. Then in 2017, it took off. Whether it was due to the amount of talent that participated or something else, the tournament was very popular. Having it be on ESPN probably helped as well.
This summer, some regionals have already taken place, but the Midwest Regional, which the Scarlet and Gray team is in, will be July 20-22 in Columbus, with all games at Capital University. After reaching the Final Four in 2017, Scarlet and Gray are the No. 1 seed in their region this year and, while the team that’s mostly full of Ohio State basketball alumni was already very good, it became even more stacked this summer.
There are only a few new faces on this year’s team. Scarlet and Gray will consist of former Buckeyes Aaron Craft, David Lighty, Jon Diebler, William Buford, Jared Sullinger, Byron Mullens, and Greg Oden, the latter two of which were not on the team last year. They will also have Leon Rodgers, who grew up in Columbus and played at Northern Illinois and former Penn State standout point guard Talor Battle too. Although he didn’t go to Ohio State, Rodgers was on the team in 2017 as well.
Oden has had an up-and-down basketball career, to say the least, with more valleys than peaks after he was selected first overall in the 2007 NBA Draft. Last year, he was expected to take part in The Tournament but was replaced on the roster by Sullinger. This year, he hopes he can actually take part, although he will miss the opening weekend (and first two games assuming they win) because he will be out of town.
“Greg Oden was one of the most imposing players to step foot on a Columbus basketball court,” said Linda Logan, executive director, Greater Columbus Sports Commission. “It’s great to see Greg feeling good and able to get back on the floor for Team Scarlet & Gray.”
Like last year, their head coach is Ohio State Director of Player Development and former Buckeyes point guard Scoonie Penn. Current Portland Trail Blazer and former Ohio State star Evan Turner will once again be the assistant coach. Adding to the roster, Penn is quite excited about the potential of his team this time around, especially after bringing back a guy like Sully.
“We have an unparalleled mix of size, speed, and shooting,” Penn said. “We can’t wait to reunite in front of our Columbus fans for a chance at that $2 million prize.”
“Jared is finally healthy and showing the world what he’s capable of on the court,” said Penn. “When Buckeye and basketball fans see him play in person, they will quickly remember why he was one of the greatest Buckeyes to ever wear an Ohio State uniform.”
Scarlet and Gray’s first game is July 21 at 4 p.m. ET and can be seen live on ESPN. If they win, they’ll advance to play on July 22 at 2 p.m. ET, which will also air on ESPN, much like the rest of the tournament.
In case you miss watching some of those former Buckeyes, you may want to either tune in on television or actually attend the Columbus regional at Capital University. It’s going to be fun, hopefully, the Scarlet and Gray can actually take home all the money this time around, though.