These 10 UH players would make a legit TBT contender
The quarterfinals of The Basketball Tournament are set to start on Thursday, so I wanted to put together a team of Ultimate Hoops players that could go out and compete in TBT. One caveat I threw in was that every player needed a minimum of 50 games played, unfortunately making DeMarcus Cousins unavailable. We’ll be able to manage, as these 10 players would put together a squad not to be taken lightly.
23.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.9 assists, shooting splits of 56/39/73 in 291 career games
He’ll always be my first pick for an Ultimate Hoops game. There might be better players, there might be more talented players, there might be more athletic players, but Kyles has consistently performed against any competition put in his way. He’s won titles in Open leagues, Rec-Plus leagues, the Dream League and the Las Vegas National Tournament. He can score on anyone, defend the opposing team’s best player (when needed) and get everyone on the court involved. He was a first-ballot Hall of Famer for a reason.
18.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists, shooting splits of 59/38/74 in 78 career games
Another easy choice, as Crockrell is arguably the best player in Ultimate Hoops. You could argue between him and Tevin Kelly, and Kelly might be the more popular choice given what happened in Vegas this year, but Kelly has only played in 30 UH games. Crockrell has been a semi-regular in UH, and he’s a perfect fit for this team because he’s already used to playing on stacked rosters. He’s a player that could average 40 a game if that was his main focus, but he works well with elite talent around him and knows when to turn it on. Him and Kyles could switch between 1 and 2 guard, as they can both play well off the ball.
Micah “Juice” Hedrick
28 points, 8.7 rebounds, 6.7 assists, shooting splits of 53/42/75 in 105 career games
Very well could be my favorite player in Ultimate Hoops. There is not one team playing in UH right now that Hedrick couldn’t fit on. He’s capable of being a go-to scorer, as his 29.7 points per game in the Gilbert Draft League this season proves, but he can also function as an over-qualified role player. A great example of this came in an 87-80 win against Rudedogs in the quarterfinals this year in Vegas. Hedrick struggled offensively, scoring five points on 2-11 shooting, but he still had five assists and five steals. He’s all effort, all the time, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him get tired. If he’s on the floor, he’s helping your team win.
25.2 points, 10.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists, shooting splits of 60/33/69 in 89 career games
Hendershot is not as recognizable of a name as the other guys on this team, but he should be. He possesses all of the offensive traits to be a dominant big man and puts them on full display at all levels. At 6’5”, he could struggle against bigger players in TBT, but he is strong enough to play with bigger guys in post, and has enough range to force bigger defenders out of the paint. Hendershot’s numbers are impressive, and they barely decrease at the national level. In five national tournament games, he’s averaged 21.8 points and 9 rebounds, while shooting 53% from the field and 40% from deep. We’ll see if Hendershot can raise his profile this August in New York, where he’ll play for Trey’s 4 Days.
27.3 points, 12.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, shooting splits of 65/22/68 in 50 career games
Pichon is an absolute freak of nature. It works out perfectly that he’s played in 50 career games and is just eligible to make this team (I definitely didn’t come up with this arbitrary number to get him on the team…not at all). He is 6’6” but plays like a 7-footer. Pairing him with Hendershot gives this team a lethal frontcourt, as Hendershot can help space the floor and allow Pichon to patrol the paint alone, or come up to set screens. Pichon provides some needed rim protection as well. Just like Hendershot, Pichon’s numbers barely dip in national tournaments. He averages 24 points and 12.6 rebounds, shooting 69% from the field.
Tony Eackles Jr.
22.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists, shooting splits of 57/33/70 in 101 career games
I can’t imagine Eackles is used to coming off the bench, but he could do some real damage against second units. His athleticism against either tired legs or bench players would turn into automatic buckets. He could also pair well with Kyles or Crockrell, making sure there’s a dynamic scoring backcourt on the floor at all times. Can you imagine the highlights Crockrell and Eackles could put together while on the same team?
23 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, shooting splits of 52/45/76 in 61 career games
Speaking of instant offense, there’s no better example of it than Scales, who is a buzz saw off the bench. I’ve seen Ball So Hard games where teams get false hope early and can keep the score close for 10 or so minutes, then Scales comes in the game. Teams with less depth might be a little mentally or physically tired, leading to an open 3, or five, for Scales, who can drop daggers with a centimeter of space. Plus, if a guy has a career record of 58-3, you have to get him on your team.
11 points, 5 rebounds, 3.4 assists, shooting splits of 45/33/60 in 860 career games
Speaking of winners, there’s no better example of one in UH than Jansen. He’s won 641 games (179 more than Izzy Elkaffas in second place), giving him a winning percentage of .745. He’s won 17 titles, tied for fourth-most in UH, including one national title and multiple titles won in combined playoffs featuring 20-plus teams. This is partly because Jansen is on one of the best teams Minnesota has ever assembled, but it’s also because he’s a big reason why it’s one of the best teams Minnesota has ever assembled. There are plenty of scorers on this team, so he can come in and do the dirty work off the bench. There would be times where Jansen and Hedrick would be on the floor together, which would cause opposing offensive players to have to change their shorts at halftime.
18. 2 points, 12.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, shooting splits of 66/32/65 in 158 career games
I was in between McCarver or Warren Rosegreen for frontcourt depth, but I go in favor of McCarver because of the defensive upside. McCarver has averaged 1.2 blocks per game in his career (1.8 in 16 national tournament games) and he can guard bigs in the post and come out to guard wings on switches. He’s also extremely efficient, shooting 65.67% from the field, which is the third-best shooting percentage in all of UH (minimum 100 games). He can run the floor and play fast with Pichon, or operate in a half-court offense and set up pick-and-rolls. His versatility on both ends of the floor make him a perfect frontcourt option off the bench.
19.7 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, shooting splits of 68/35/68 in 118 career games
This may be a surprising pick for some, but I just mentioned my love for efficiency, and no one in UH is more efficient than Matthews. His shooting percentage of 67.53% is the best in Ultimate Hoops. There are better players in UH, and better players from San Antonio, but the best thing a tenth man can bring to a team is self-awareness. Matthews knows what he’s good at, and he won’t waste the minutes he gets. For example, Matthews barely takes 3s. Only 54 of his 1,460 shots in UH have been 3s, because he knows his best trait is to score in the paint off drives, cuts and offensive rebounds. He’s made 19 of those 3s, good for 35%, which isn’t even bad, but you know he’s not going to take a bad shot. Matthews is extremely athletic, which fits the mold of this team. He’ll be able to come off the bench and run in transition and stop breaks on the other end.