The time has finally come.
Our first ever Wake Forest TBT Alumni team “Wake The Nation” is set to tip off this weekend in Richmond and I couldn’t be more excited. Getting to see Deacon stars of different eras such as Josh Howard, Justin Gray, and LD Williams play on the same court together is something Wake fans have always dreamed of, and will finally become a reality on Saturday.
Wake The Nation is the #5 overall seed in the South Region of the 2018 TBT field, a tournament that has picked up a ton of media momentum from basketball analysts and personalities alike over the last couple of months. The Deacs are set for the 12:40 time slot on Saturday against the 12th seeded “Showtime”, which features a number of players who played D1 ball in the southeast. Here are 3 quick notes on our Wake alumni team and what to expect from the South Region going forward. =
Late Roster Changes: Coron Williams Joins Up
Two pieces of relevant roster news have come up over the last couple of days as Wake The Nation prepares for its opener. The first is that F Nikita Mescheriakov will be forced to sit out the entire tournament after suffering an injury. This roster news was somewhat offset, however, by the late addition of Shooting Guard Coron Williams, the former Deacon grad transfer who has played professionally in the G-League and Canada NBL in recent years.
ROSTER ANNOUNCEMENT— Wake The Nation (@WakeDaNationTBT) July 11, 2018
Coron WIlliams has been added to the #WakeTheNation roster for @thetournament.@coronw13 was a standout with the @greensboroswarm & @NBLCanada in 2017-18 where he shot 49% from 3️⃣ in 27 games
Picture courtesy of @bhallwfmy pic.twitter.com/l8WVRgoBOB
In 27 games for the St. Johns Edge of NBL Canada last year, Williams shot 49% from deep and averaged 14 PPG. He has also featured for the Greensboro Swarm (Charlotte Hornets affiliate) and the Maine Red Claws (Boston Celtics affiliate) since graduating from Wake Forest in 2014. Between Coron Williams, Justin Gray, CJ Harris, and Travis McKie on the wings, there will be no shortage of outside threats for the Deacs throughout the tournament.
Inside the Opponent: Showtime At A Glance
While most of the roster is full of under-the-radar players, there will be one familiar face on the opposing sideline when Wake The Nation takes the court Saturday. Former Deacon PF Darius Leonard is suiting up for Showtime this season, having last played in Black and Gold in 2014-15 in Danny Manning’s first season. After transferring to Wake Forest from Campbell for his Senior year, Leonard went on to average 5.7 points and 2.5 rebounds per game in a season that was mostly one to forget for the program.
Apart from Leonard, Showtime features a number of other players who were contributors at Mid-Major programs over the last 10 years. Shooting Guard JJ Mann averaged 18.3 PPG on a 2013-14 Belmont squad that finished 1st in the OVC and played in the NCAA Tournament 3 times in his 4 years. Marcus Posley is a 6’0 Guard that was the star player on a 2015-16 St. Bonaventure team that is most known for getting completely robbed on Selection Sunday despite being 30th in the RPI. The strength of Showtime certainly looks to be their backcourt, while Wake should have an advantage down low simply based on size and depth in the post.
TBT South Region: Quick Breakdown
As mentioned earlier, the Deacs are the #5 seed in a competitive South Region full of talented teams. The headliner is easily Overseas Elite, which has won the TBT Title 3 out of the 4 years since the competition was introduced. The roster features guys like Kyle Fogg (2016 & 2017 TBT MVP), Errick McCollumn (2016 Euro Cup MVP), and DeAndre Kane (2014 1st Team All Big 12), all of whom have experience in the tournament and its “Survive and Advance” format.
If Wake The Nation advances to the Sweet 16, they’ll likely have to go up against the tournament’s first ever dynasty and knock them off to keep playing. In a “winner-take-all” type format, it’s hard not to get excited about that opportunity potentially on the horizon. Another team to keep an eye on are #2 seed Ram Nation (VCU Alumni) featuring Mo Alie-Cox, Melvin Johnson, and “Duke Slayer” Eric Maynor, who lost in the Elite 8 to Overseas Elite last year. Just below them in the seeding is Memphis State (Memphis Alumni) who have multiple players from that 2008 Final Four team and Jarvis Varnado, who was 3x SEC Defensive PoY for Mississippi State and apparently an NBA Champion with the Miami Heat in 2013. The more you know!
It won’t be an easy road to the championship for Wake The Nation, but I truly believe this team can match up with anybody in the region and make a legitimate run at the $2 million grand prize. The roster is filled with outside scoring threats and versatility that should keep the team in games as it advances through the bracket. As a Wake fan who is desperate to cheer on Deacs in Black and Gold, this Wake The Nation team could not have come at a better time. Be sure to tune into ESPN3 on Saturday and enjoy what could be the beginning of something special up in Richmond.