For the first time in history, TCU fans will have something to root for during The Tournament, a 64 team invitation that puts a million dollars in the prize pool and allows hoopers to duke it out, single-elimination style.
The Horned Frogs will be well represented in the Wichita Bracket, one of a record 30 alumni teams participating in the five day affair that begins July 16th. Featuring several notable TCU alums and coached by former Frog great Lee Nailon, the Funk have a dream of taking home the million dollar prize — and for many of them, investing it back in their community. But more than just the financial incentive, the opportunity to play again, and with former teammates and competitors, was a big enough draw to get a solid team together.
Led by a couple of fan favorites in Alex Robinson and Brandon Parrish, recent stars Vladimir Brodziansky and JD Miller, and a host of accomplished players, the team of mostly TCU alumni received an 11 seed and will face off with sixth seeded Arkansas in the opening round of the tournament in Wichita, at Koch Arena.
Other former Frogs on the roster include Bingo Merriex, Edric Dennis, Trey Ziegler, Chauncey Collins, Dalton Dry and Chris Washburn. Former Oklahoma star Willie Warren, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville forward Jalen Henry, and former LSU big man Kavell Bigby Williams are also expected to contribute.
TBT has been around since 2014, and got national attention when it introduced the “Elam Ending” In 2017, a rules addendum has truly changed the game of basketball, and might have an even bigger impact down the line. How it works: At the first dead-ball whistle after the time goes below four minutes in the final quarter, the clock gets turned off. At that point, a target score is set, equaling the leading team’s point total plus seven. Then, the first team to hit that target score wins.
All of the pub has been a good thing, as TBT has gone from playing games in relative oblivion to attracting over one hundred applicants for this year’s field. And that’s what makes TCU inclusion special — the Horned Frogs will be represented during one of the most hyped events of the summer, and alongside Jamie Dixon and Mike Miles on Team USA’s U19 squad, have people talking about TCU Basketball for the month of July.
Heady times indeed.
But it’s not just about the exposure, it’s about making sure than TCU Basketball alumni know they have a connection to the game after they graduated, wherever their future takes them, as Coach Lee Nailon said. “[We] want to build this up to be a family culture so every TCU player knows they’ve got a gym to workout at and a place to play more basketball every summer after they graduate.”
From a fan perspective, it’s a chance to watch some of your favorite players lace em up together one more time. I can’t wait to see A Rob connect with Vlad on an alley-oop, to see what Chauncey Collins can do with JD setting screens, and to watch Willie Warren light it up representing the purple. It’s a fun, guard-oriented team that should put plenty of points on the board and play and entertaining up and down style. It’s also a great chance for these guys — many of whom have been playing overseas — to get noticed stateside, possibly opening up doors for their future careers. If nothing else, as Brandon Parrish put it, “we do want to bring some notoriety and publicity to this area because there’s a lot of basketball talent.”
If you want to support The Funk at TBT, you can do so in a variety of ways. First, pick up some of their incredible merch. This logo is ***chef’s kiss***:
Then, make sure you watch the games, starting Friday, July 16th. As mentioned, the Funk open against Arkansas, kicking off the Wichita Region with a 1:00pm CT tip-off on ESPN3.
Whether they take home the title or not, The Fort Worth Funk is doing a lot for DFW Basketball and, of course, TCU Hoops. Make sure you support them along their journey!