The Basketball Tournament (TBT) is about to enter its sixth year of hosting a 64-team tournament featuring former college stars and even some ex-NBA players too, all competing for the grand prize of $2 million.
Earlier this week, former Wisconsin Badgers point guard Jordan Taylor took some time out of his day to chat with me on the phone about his pro career, playing in TBT and what it’s like playing for someone he grew up watching.
First though, let’s get a few of the major details about the Wisconsin alumni team, Kohl Blooded, and the Tournament itself. Kohl Blooded’s first game is Friday (that’s today) at 2 p.m. CT on ESPN3 against Mid-American Unity (a MAC alumni team). Much like the NCAA Tournament, TBT is set up by region and the higher seeded teams usually play closer to home. Kohl Blooded is the No. 2 seed in the Columbus Regional (Ohio State’s team is No. 1, obvs) and will be playing their games at the Capital Center Performance Arena, home of D-III Capital University.
If Kohl Blooded wins, their second round game will be on Saturday morning at 11 on ESPN. Here is the full schedule in case you want to get a head start on when the other games are. The quarterfinals, semifinals and finals all take place in Chicago during the beginning of August.
The roster for Kohl Blooded has gone through a bit of upheaval right before the tournament due to injuries to Ethan Happ and professional obligations for Nigel Hayes, but the team is still stacked with a number of familiar faces. Besides Jordan Taylor, the team consists of GM/Head Coach Kammron Taylor, forward Vitto Brown, forward Happ (who would be eligible to play if Kohl Blooded keeps winning), guard Jordan Hill, guard Trevon Hughes, forward Khalil Iverson, forward Charles Thomas and then three other players that never played for the Badgers.
Roster update: Due to professional obligations, Nigel Hayes will be unable to join us this weekend in Columbus. However, to take his place we are excited to be adding recent Wisconsin graduate KHALIL IVERSON (@iverson_khalil)! Welcome, Khalil! pic.twitter.com/0lzPwJ4xkW— Kohl Blooded (@KohlBloodedTBT) July 16, 2019
While talking to Jordan Taylor I asked him what drew him to playing in TBT this year. He laughed and said, “I finally put together my first couple of healthy months since I was a junior in college.”
Taylor was also drawn to playing for Kohl Blooded due to another Taylor, Kammron.
“I grew up watching Kam. He has a lot of dog in him, and talks a lot, and he should be a fun person to play for.”
Taylor, who will be playing in Lyon, France for Tony Parker and Nicolas Batum’s team ASVEL this year, noted that Kohl Blooded will be running a pretty simplified offense and defense. “We’ll get one practice together, maybe two,” Taylor said before mentioning that he would be arriving late and might not get any practice time.
When I wondered who would be tougher to play for, Kam or Bo Ryan, Taylor quickly disabused me of Ryan being “tough” to play for. “He was more fair than tough,” Taylor stated, while also going on to say that Kam would not be tougher than Ryan regardless.
Near the end of our chat, I finally asked the important question: if Kohl Blooded were put into NBA2K, who would be the highest rated played? After laughing for a bit, Taylor boasted, “me, duh!”
Upon further reflection he allowed Hayes to beat him in one category, “My athleticism is going as I come up on 30. Nigel probably has the highest athleticism rating.”
Taylor sounded excited to be playing with some old friends but also said seeing guys from other teams he used to play against in the Big Ten is fun too. “It’s cool to get to know these guys. It almost becomes a brotherhood when we swap stories of playing for Bo Ryan or Thad Matta. We have a lot more in common than you think.”