Image courtesy of TBT
By Bennett Conlin
There’s a JMU alumni team in this year’s The Basketball Tournament (TBT).
If you’re a passionate sports fan, you might know about TBT. There’s also a good chance if you’re a sports fan who follows major sporting events and JMU, AKA people who read this site, you aren’t familiar with TBT.
For those wanting more information on this year’s event and JMU’s alumni team, The Founding Fathers, we’re here to help.
Check out the full interview with team GM Joe Kuykendall and player Dimitrije Cabarkapa below. We’ll hit a couple highlights in our story.
What is TBT?
Launched in 2014, TBT is an open, single-elimination tournament with a big prize for the winning team. This year, the winning squad makes $1 million.
So what’s an “open tournament?” Essentially, any team can register for the event. This year, JMU’s alumni team was selected to compete in the tournament.
JMU has a team?
Yes … and no. While it’s not an officially-sanctioned JMU team, the majority of players and coaches are JMU alumni.
The Founding Fathers crew has tried to get into tournament in the past, but the Dukes’ alumni weren’t selected for whatever reason.
“We put a really good effort in, in 2017 and didn’t get in,” team GM and former JMU men’s basketball student manager Joe Kuykendall said.
This time around, Kuykendall and company emailed their TBT rep, asking if another application process was worth their time. TBT said it was.
“We’ve been working on this since December 1st,” Kuykendall said. “And we’re excited to have a JMU team to represent what JMU basketball stands for, and I specifically say JMU basketball because I think we’re unique in that we’re the only team with a women’s basketball player on our roster. We know you can’t say JMU basketball in one sentence and not talk about the women’s program.”
That women’s player is recent JMU standout Kamiah Smalls, who plays professionally now. The Dukes will also have former player and current Radford assistant Nikki Newman on the bench as an assistant coach.
As for the rest of the roster, JMU’s alumni team includes Andre Nation, Devon Moore, Dimitrije Cabarkapa, Ron Curry, Scooter Renkin and Stuckey Mosley. It also includes non-JMU players in Yancey Gates, Marquis Mathis and Cordaryl Ballard.
Kuykendall is the GM and Kevin Albright is the head coach.
“I think this is gonna be a great opportunity for everybody to get together and just reunite, see each other again because we’re a family that life, I’ll say physically took us apart,” Cabarkapa said.
He’s currently in Kansas, working on a PhD at Kansas University. Cabarkapa spoke to us more about what he’s up to on our full podcast episode.
Who do the Founding Fathers play first and how can I watch?
JMU’s alumni team opens with Sideline Cancer, one of the best teams in the event. They’re the only squad to field a team in every iteration of TBT, and they made the finals last season.
The Founding Fathers will play Sideline Cancer on Sunday, July 18 at 5 p.m. ET. The game is currently set to air on ESPN3, a streaming service. Fans can also purchase tickets to watch the game, which will be played in Charleston, West Virginia.
AJ Davis update
AJ Davis, a key member of the 2012-13 JMU team that made the NCAA Tournament, was expected to play a key role for The Founding Fathers.
Unfortunately, Davis was struck by a car in recent months, suffering severe injuries. Davis was out of his car when he was hit, reportedly exiting his vehicle to grab food and drinks for a homeless person.
The injuries led to both of Davis’ legs being amputated, according to The Washington Post.
Davis is home from the hospital and in good spirits, Kuykendall said. Davis is expected to be on the bench in West Virginia, showing support and acting as an assistant coach.
“We will do everything to support AJ,” Cabarkapa said. “I mean, it’s unbelievable his toughness.”
Both guys mentioned Davis’ smile on team Zoom calls, saying he’s kept a fantastic attitude since suffering the severe injuries.
JMU’s alumni team hopes to become a regular in TBT. What can make that happen? A good showing and fan support.
TBT executives want teams that generate fan interest. If JMU fans tune into the July 18 game show support on social media, it can go a long way toward future teams of Dukes competing in the event. Attending the game also helps.