Former Penn State Basketball star John Harrar announced yesterday that he has formed an official Penn State Basketball alumni TBT team that will be applying for TBT2023.
TBT, or The Basketball Tournament, is a summer single-elimination tournament made to capitalize on the lack of basketball following March Madness and the NBA playoffs. Applications to join the league are open and the teams are individually formed, but most of the teams in the field are college alumni teams or supporting causes like cancer awareness. The tournament is broadcasted every year on ESPN and the winning team gets a $1 million winner-take-all prize to split amongst their team or go to the cause they are supporting.
John Harrar has previous experience playing in TBT. Last year he played for the Men of Mackey, Purdue’s alumni team. The team made it to the second round before losing to Ohio State’s alum team, Carmen’s Crew. Harrar talked then about wanting to create a Penn State charter for the tournament and it seems he has succeeded, with a star studded roster. Starting with Harrar himself who is one of the top centers in program history and has the record for the most career games played with the Nittany Lions. He finished his career as 5th on the all-time rebounding leaderboard at Penn State. Harrar had career averages of 6 points, 6 rebounds, and a block a game. In his final year with the program in 2021-2022 he averaged 11 points and 10 rebounds a game while being the ultimate leader on and off the court. He helped lead the program through the abrupt firing of Pat Chambers and was able to help coach Micah Shrewsberry have a strong start to his Penn State tenure.
The most high-profile member of the announced team is likely former star guard Tony Carr. Carr only played two years at Penn State, but they were two years that changed how people viewed the program and changed the trajectory of its future. Carr is the highest rated recruit in Penn State Basketball history, being ranked the 51st best player in the 2016 class by the 247 Sports Composite. In his second and final year with the program he averaged 20 points, 5 assists, and 5 rebounds while leading PSU to their second ever NIT victory. This season is arguable one of, if not the best, single season from a player in school history. He had the second most points and third most assists from a player in a single season in program history. He left for the draft after that season and was taken with the 51st pick by the New Orleans Pelicans. He was never able to crack the NBA, but he has had a successful pro career in the NBA G-League and overseas leagues.
Other high-profile names from the program that are slated to be on the team include guys like Shep Gardner. Shep is the all-time 3pt leader at Penn State, hitting 336 triples in his 4 years at Penn State. He is also 6th all time in scoring and was a huge part of that 2018 NIT championship team alongside Tony Carr and center Mike Watkins. Watkins was a dominant fixture down low for the Nittany Lions from 2016 to 2020, and while he had some off the court issues, he finished as a hoops legend. He is #1 all time in field goal percentage shooting almost 60% for his career, as well as being second all time in blocks and rebounds. Another key player from the NIT champs’ team is set to return in Josh Reaves. Reaves was a do it all forward who was a monster on defense, finishing 2nd all time in steals and 10th all time in blocks as well as winning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2019. He went undrafted in the 2019 NBA draft but had brief NBA career as a 2-way player with the Dallas Mavericks.
Joining Harrar from the more recent teams is his former roommate Jamari Wheeler. Wheeler was a three-year starter for the Nittany Lions finishing 6th on the all time steals list before finishing his career with one year at Ohio State. Other members announced include fellow 2016 recruiting class member Nazeer Bostic, grand transfer and 3pt sniper Curtis Jones, and stretch big man Trent Butrick.
The team, called the Happy Valley Hoopers, will look to add more members and get their application approved by the TBT to be able to compete in the 2023 tournament. The tournament will most likely tip off in July and be broadcast on ESPN.