The Syracuse Alumni Team has received a commitment from former wing Demetris Nichols for The Basketball Tournament this summer.
The Tournament is a 5-on-5, single-elimination, winner-take-all basketball tournament with a grand prize of $1 million. A team can only become eligible by voting for their team on the TBT website. Currently, the Syracuse roster features Josh Pace, Brandon Reese, Eric Devendorf, Rick Jackson, Donte Greene, Hakim Warrick and Baye Moussa Keita.
“We’re definitely not done yet. We got a commitment from Demetris Nichols as well,” Devendorf said. “We’ll probably try to get a couple of more guys, maybe two more guys. Maybe Paul Harris or Andy Rautins. The voting doesn’t end until June 1, so we have time to figure that out.”
Nichols played at Syracuse from 2003-07, and was named First Team All-Big East in his senior season. He played with three NBA teams including the Cavaliers, Bulls and Knicks before beginning his international career in the 2009 season.
Despite the voting being open for another six weeks, the Syracuse team was the first to receive the necessary votes to become eligible. SU was placed in the northeast region and will play on July 17 -19 in Philadelphia.
A team consisting of Notre Dame alumni won the tournament last year, prompting former Syracuse basketball manager Kevin Belbey to put together this year’s Syracuse roster.
“I thought if they can do it, why can’t we get a Syracuse team together?” Belbey said.
Belbey’s first call was to Warrick, who had played in the tournament last year, but for a different team. Once Belbey secured a commitment from Warrick, things snowballed from there.
“That was a definitely a great first recruit to have,” Belbey said. “It was easy to build a team around him when he signed up.”
While the Syracuse team is looking forward to an opportunity to play the defending champions, another dormant rivalry could emerge with UConn.
It’s fitting, considering that Devendorf and Jackson were two members of the team that defeated the Huskies in the 2009 Big East Tournament in six overtimes. Since Syracuse’s move to the ACC, the two teams haven’t played each other.
“They’re still in the planning stages,” Belbey said. “I would love to see Syracuse-UConn to reinvigorate the rivalry in a new way.”
Either way, there is plenty of interest in the Tournament and this team.
“When you talk about Syracuse basketball, the fan base runs pretty deep,” Devendorf said. “It’s good to see that Syracuse fans like to keep in contact with old players and old alum and I think they’re excited about seeing the guys come back to play together.”