Spearheaded by Dwayne Curtis, Marshall Henderson, Chris Warren and others, Ole Miss will be well-represented in The Basketball Tournament, an annual five-on-five, single-elimination tournament featuring 64 teams that will play for a winner-takes-all prize of $2 million this summer. The championship game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN Aug. 1 at 6 p.m. CT.
Sixteen teams in four regions are chosen to participate, with nine teams picked based on popular vote at TheTournament.com. Deadline for voting is June 1 at 11 p.m. CT. Another six at-large teams are selected based on the criteria of at least 100 fans, seven players and having met the eligibility requirements outlined in the tournament rules. The final team in each region has to play its way in through the TBT Jamboree, which features 16 additional tournament hopefuls.
The TBT field will be announced June 1.
“We have a team this summer in the tournament,” former Ole Miss forward Terrance Henry said. “It’s a two-million-dollar prize, and we’re getting an Ole Miss alumni team together. Y’all support it.”
Henderson said the idea to come together was floated by Curtis, and Henderson and Warren were the first Rebels confirmed. Terrico White, Stefan Moody, Murphy Holloway, Ladarius White, Aaron Jones and Henry followed, while Reggie Buckner wasn’t able to come aboard due to a scheduling conflict with his basketball career abroad.
The Ole Miss alumni team will be named ‘Ole Hotty Toddy.’
“I would really love to have a Chris Warren and Stefan Moody backcourt,” Henderson said. “That would be pretty nice.”
Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said he’s proud to see so many of his former players still connected with the program and embracing their Rebel roots.
“It’s a pretty good roster,” Kennedy, the winningest coach in program history, said. “I don’t know who their competition is and I don’t know much about it, but it does speak to the connectivness that continues beyond their playing days. Many of those guys never played together, but they all share a common bond.
“All of our guys — Chris Warren, Marshall’s around here a lot, Murph comes back in the offseason — I get to see a lot of guys as they continue to prosper in their basketball careers. Some beyond basketball have segued into the next phase of life. I’m proud of those guys, I’m proud of what they were able to bring to Ole Miss and I’m proud Ole Miss is still in them and they’re still very proud to be a part of this.”
The first action for Ole Hotty Toddy is in Charlotte, N.C., July 8-9.
“I’m coming off the bench with these guys,” Henderson, a shoot-first guard who ranks third in Ole Miss history in 3-point makes (267), second in 3-point shots attempted (771), third in free throw percentage (.857) and sixth in scoring average (19.6 ppg). He holds the SEC record with 138 3s made in a season and the NCAA record with 394 attempts.
“They’ve got it in this tournament. I’m going to come off the bench, do my little five minutes and then send the goons back out there. I’m really excited about it. This is another thing about coach Kennedy. He’s had incredible players play for him. Now we have the chance to put all those players on one team. I think that’s going to be really exciting.”
There’s one problem, however. With such a talented roster of decorated Rebels, who gets the ball should Ole Hotty Toddy find itself trailing late in a game and in need of a winning basket?
Kennedy, Henderson and Henry all had the same answer.
“Chris Warren was a cold-blooded killer,” Kennedy said. “He was a guy that never got to the (NCAA Tournament) and as a result he’s not really mentioned as some of the all-time greats, but when you look at the numbers and think about all the big shots he hit, he made as many big shots, most certainly in my 11 years, of any player we’ve ever had.”
“You’ve got to give it to Chris Warren, in my mind,” Henderson said. “He can score, and he’s a point guard. And he’s an old guy. And he beat Kentucky at the buzzer. You got to give it to him.”
“I don’t even want to think about it,” Henry, who finished his Rebel career ranked No. 28 on the all-time scoring list with 1,095 points, joked. “Me personally, I think I’ll give it to Chris. I’ve seen his work personally on the court with him. I know he’ll make a shot like that. But Marshall or Moody, that’s not a bad second or third option. But Chris is an assassin.”