Brian Sullivan has spent the summer with some of his former Davidson teammates getting ready to begin a pro basketball career in Europe.
However, before jetting overseas, Sullivan and his fellow Wildcats alumni are trying to pick up a little spending money.
Sullivan and the ex-Davidson players form the Cat Pack, one of 16 teams that will begin play Saturday in the third annual The Basketball Tournament’s South Regional at the Grady Cole Center.
“It’s not as much like a showcase as being able to play competitive basketball against really good players under game conditions,” said Sullivan, who ended his Wildcats career in 2016.
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“It’s a great opportunity to get better, to stay in shape and to have fun playing with your old teammates.”
Then there’s the spending money – the 64-team tournament’s national winner will pocket $2 million, double what 2015 champion Overseas Elite won.
“You can’t go to a park and simulate the intensity that I imagine is going to be there in this tournament,” Sullivan said. “When you put money on the line, the intensity’s usually picked up.”
From the two-day tournament, which concludes Sunday, the top four teams will advance to the Super 16 tournament in Philadelphia July 21-23. Other regionals are in Los Angeles this weekend and in Chicago and Philadelphia July 16-17.
The top four teams in the Super 16 move on to the TBT’s championship round in New York July 30-Aug. 2, with the finalists playing on ESPN for the winner-takes-all $2 million prize.
The Cat Pack is the brainchild of former Davidson player Will Thoni, now the Wildcats’ assistant for program development. He was approached last year by tournament organizers about forming a team of Davidson alumni, but the timing didn’t work out.
“With it being in Charlotte this year, it was a pretty easy sell,” Thoni said. “We wanted to keep it a Davidson thing because we figured that’d make it pretty special.”
Also playing for the Cat Pack are Wildcats alumni Jordan Barham, Jake Cohen, Chris Czerapowicz, Kenny Grant and Tyler Kalinoski. The team’s coach is 2006 Davidson graduate Brendan Winters.
Among that group are three conference players of the year (Kalinoski in the Atlantic 10 in 2015; Cohen in the Southern Conference in 2012 and 2013; and Winters in the Southern in 2005), and five with European pro experience (Cohen, Czerapowicz, Grant, Kalinoski and Winters).
What binds the players (and coaches) is they played under current Davidson coach Bob McKillop. That, Sullivan and Thoni said, will give the Cat Pack an advantage over some of the other teams in the regional.
“We wanted to get guys who had played together, and knew coach McKillop’s culture,” Thoni said. “What a better representation of that than the guys we have now.”