The gang is "back together" again. That's the narrative used for and by the Mad "Ants Alumni" team set to compete in The Basketball Tournament ("TBT"), a winner take all tournament with a $1 million grand prize, starting next month.
While a slew of D-League alumni can be found scattered on various teams across the tournament, "Ants Alumni" uniquely boasts a group (one that features that likes of Ron Howard, Matt Bouldin, Trey McKinney-Jones, Sadiel Rojas, Chris Porter, Will Frisby, Anthony Harris, Brian Butch and Tommy Smith) that has already won big on one of the biggest and brightest stages in all of professional basketball. Everyone but Smith was a member of the championship winning team that led Fort Wayne to the promise land in 2013-14.
While not officially affiliated with the organization, this group has been assembled by Garrett Martz, the Mad Ants' Vice President of Sales and Marketing.
"Everyone was all about it," Martz, who said Howard was the first player he reached out to, told RidiculousUpside.com. "So I started reached out to guys, and right now, we've got nine committed. We might add one more. Everyone is real excited, and it's a fun idea to me because we can kind of get the band back together."
Though Martz added that some may be forced to drop out due to international and/or other related opportunities, there's no doubt that such a large pot of gold at the end of the tunnel is quite the incentive, especially for such D-League athletes.
"That's what's exciting to me. To give these guys the really well deserved pay day if we pull this off," he added. "Some guys are getting towards the end of their playing careers, and this would be a great way to cap it off. For the young guys, this will be a great way to start them off if they haven't gotten that big pay day already. If we make it to the final round and our game is broadcast on ESPN, this is a great spotlight for our guys to prove they're great players who deserve to be in NBA or get overseas deals. I'd be thrilled to be able to give back to these players who have worked hard for the Mad Ants."
Through two trips to the D-League Finals in each of the last two seasons, there's no doubt the Mad Ants really enjoy playing with one another. Such chemistry is certainly set to give them an advantage.
"All these guys have played together before," Martz agreed. "If you look at the Notre Dame team that won last year (it featured Rob Kurz, Troy Jackson, and Ryan Ayers --- all Fort Wayne alumni), that's why they won. They have that experience. We're going to take this very seriously. I'm going to try and get a practice together. We have legitimate coaches. I agree. The chemistry is huge. Everyone knows and likes each other. They'll know their roles and play for one another. This won't be about performing in front of scouts. They'll be focused on winning the entire tournament."
This seemingly well-oiled machine will be coached by Mad Ants' assistant Dylan Murphy and Director of Player Personnel Kevin Bloom.
After eclipsing the necessary 100 fans to simply qualify for selection/contention, the Ants Alumni now look to continue building their fan base for a shot at a first-round bye and/or a chance to hand-select their opponent(s) later on.
Fans and D-League supporters alike can vote for the Ants Alumni and learn more about TBT by clicking here.