If there are familiar faces on ESPN later this month, it’s not deja vu, it’s Ohio 1804.
Ohio 1804 is an alumni team consisting of some of Ohio’s best men’s basketball players participating in The Basketball Tournament this summer. After being knocked out last summer’s tournament in the first round, Ohio 1804 is looking for redemption and another shot at $1 million.
“It’s definitely high stakes,” General Manager Kenny Brown said. “It’s single elimination, one and done, so you’ve got to come prepared.”
Alumni teams from across the nation have participated in the tournament since its first season in 2014. Entering its ninth season in 2022, there have been five different champions and only one from Ohio: the Ohio State alumni team, Carmen’s Crew.
However, that doesn’t keep the tournament from making stops in Ohio. Last season, Ohio 1804 faced Zip ‘Em Up, the Xavier alumni team, in the Columbus regional. It was there that Brown saw how passionate fans and players can get for the TBT.
“(Zip ‘Em Up) set the standard for how well teams can travel in this state, and the amount of fans and passion that you can have for this event,” Brown said.
Brown is hoping that Ohio 1804 can draw a similar passion from the Ohio fanbase for its trip to the Dayton regional later this month. Ohio 1804 is set to play Golden Eagles, the Marquette alumni team, on July 24 at UD Arena.
Despite not making it far in the TBT last season, Brown has an optimistic outlook for this year’s rendition.
“We know exactly what we’ve got to do and how competitive we have to be, and how every possession matters,” Brown said. “There’s more strategy involved.”
Part of that strategy is building the roster. This season, Ohio 1804 has two TBT veterans on its roster: Jordan Barham and 2016 Mid-American Conference Player of the Year Antonio Campbell. The roster also boasts March Madness veteran Stevie Taylor and others as well as non-Bobcats.
While the majority of Ohio 1804’s roster just wrapped up international professional seasons, one of its members just finished their collegiate career.
Tommy Schmock, who was tied for the second-most 3-pointers on Ohio’s roster last season, is set to join Ohio 1804.
Schmock had been on Brown’s radar during his final collegiate season. However, it was Schmock who reached out to Brown about joining Ohio 1804. Within 10 minutes of the two talking, Schmock was registered for the TBT.
“Tommy, we are absolutely thrilled to have on the team,” Brown said. “What he brings as a character and a glue guy. We want great shooters and leaders and he brings all of that so we are pumped to immediately take him off the Bobcat roster and put him on the alumni team.”
Now that the roster is in place, there are only a few more weeks before Ohio 1804 makes the trip to Dayton. The team is working on staying in basketball shape while also trying to win over the hearts of Bobcat fans. Brown hopes to see green lining the seats of UE Arena later this month.
“We’re trying to get students, we’re trying to get all the alumni and people that love Bobcat nation to come over to UD Arena,” Brown said. “We're thrilled that (the regional) is in the state.”
Ohio 1804 hopes to feel the support from Ohio fans tuning in on ESPN or in person. It's that exact Bobcat love that keeps them in the tournament.