The dead days of summer are upon us. The NBA and NHL had their champions crowned over a month ago. The MLB All-Star Game is long gone (if anyone cares about that anymore). The highlight in the sports world this past few weeks was figuring out the remains of this year’s NBA free agency frenzy.
However, the one thing that has given sports obsessors an outlet for their fandom during this quiet period has been The Basketball Tournament (TBT). This single-elimination tournament has been held annually since 2004 in which the winner comes home with $2 million to split among its team.
In honor of Carmen’s Crew winning the 2019 tournament, let’s compile the dream roster of former Big Ten standouts that could win the championship in 2020. As per TBT rules, players that are currently signed to NBA or D-League contracts are not included.
Point Guard: Melo Trimble, Maryland
Trimble came to Maryland as a McDonald’s All-American and did not disappoint during his career with the Terrapins. He ended his time in College Park averaging 15.9 ppg and 3.9 apg, earning him All-Big Ten honors in 2015 and 2017. Trimble ended up going undrafted in 2017, bouncing around the league before heading overseas to begin his professional career. He played the 2018-19 season for the Cairns Taipans in Australia where he averaged over 22 points per game, earning second-team All-NBL.
Trimble has always been able to fill up the points column and this hypothetical team will be able to depend on him to go get a bucket at any time, if need be.
Shooting Guard: Nik Stauskas, Michigan
Stauskas lit the world on fire with his shooting in his short career in Ann Arbor, shooting 44% from three in 2013-14. This resulted in him being named a consensus All-American his sophomore year, including Big Ten Player of the Year honors. Stauskas ended up getting drafted 8th overall by the Sacramento Kings in 2014 but his pro career is widely considered a disappoint as he’s played for five different NBA teams.
However, he recently announced that he will be spending the 2019-20 season playing for Saski Baskonia in Spain - thus making him eligible for the TBT. Stauskas would provide shooting for the squad, an attribute that has proven itself valuable in the tournament.
Small Forward: Peter Jok, Iowa
While Jok started off his Hawkeye career somewhat quietly, he exploded onto the scene his junior year, averaging 16 ppg, earning Second-Team All-Big Ten. He followed up this strong showing by averaging 19.9 ppg his senior year. After his college career ended, he demonstrated his strong shooting by winning the 2017 College Three-Point Contest.
Jok recently signed with Cholet Basket of Spain for this coming season. This shooting would pair up well with Stauskas to stretch out the defense, allowing Trimble to drive to the basket.
Power Forward: Sam Dekker, Wisconsin
Badgers’ fans will always be thankful for Dekker and their run to the National Championship in 2015. They ultimately lost to Duke, but not after Dekker scored 16 points to help knock off the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats. He was drafted by the Houston Rockets in the 2015 NBA Draft and carved out a role before being shipped off to the Clippers in exchange for Chris Paul.
Since, Dekker has bounced around the league, ending the 2019 season with the Wizards. He recently signed a contract with the PBC Lokomotiv Kuban in Russia. Dekker has not lost his shot-making ability and will provide another added weapon to this Big Ten TBT Dream Team.
Center: Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin
Another key cog of the 2015 National Runners-Up squad for the Wisconsin Badgers, Hayes would be the perfect small-ball center for the TBT. He followed up that memorable season earning first-team All-Big Ten in 2016, his junior year, after averaging 15.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Hayes went undrafted after finishing his college eligibility, starting his pro career with the Westchester Knicks in the D-League.
The former Badger will spend the 2019-20 season in Lithuania which is fortunate for this hypothetical team. Hayes has already shown the winning-gene with former teammate Sam Dekker and could help lead this team to the TBT championship in 2020.