Live basketball is back, and it's not the neighborhood pickup game at the local park. It’s professionals on TV, with shoes squeaking and teammates hollering in a symphony of normalcy to the ears of sports fans. Although the NBA is scheduled to make its return in late July, another hoops tournament is being played in Columbus, Ohio.
Former IU basketball players Maurice Creek and Remy Abell are playing in The Basketball Tournament, a nationwide event created in 2014 with a $1 million winner-take-all prize. Each team builds its own roster and consists mostly of former collegiate players, although the event is open to anyone older than 18.
Despite the risks of the coronavirus pandemic, TBT has continued its annual bracket. All players and staff underwent testing and are in complete quarantine while not on the court. The games, usually scattered across nine cities, are being played in one city this year and are taking place without fans.
Creek and Abell were in action Sunday for Sideline Cancer, the No. 22 seed in the 24-team draw. The duo helped take down No. 11 Team Hines 93-91 in walk-off fashion.
Abell dropped in 17 points, while shooting 7 for 12 from the field and adding three rebounds. Creek contributed 13 points and four rebounds in 24 minutes. The tandem had a combined plus/minus of 29, the highest of any two players on Sideline Cancer.
Other past Big Ten players starred in the game, too. Former Wisconsin big man Ethan Happ and former Illinois guard Brandon Paul both took the court for Team Hines.
Abell spent two seasons at IU from 2011-13 before transferring to Xavier University. He appeared in 68 games off of the bench, averaging 3.5 points, 1.2 rebounds and 0.7 assists in just over 10 minutes per game.
Creek endured an injury-riddled career at IU after starting 12 games as a freshman in the 2009-10 season. He averaged 16.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per game that year.
Creek’s numbers sharply declined after his freshman year, as he worked through injuries. He netted 8.3 points per game as a sophomore before suffering a ruptured Achilles and sitting out the 2011-12 season. Upon his return in his junior year, he averaged 1.8 points per game. Creek eventually left IU for George Washington University in his final year of eligibility.
While the former IU teammates both moved away from Bloomington, TBT has reunited Creek and Abell on the court.
Sideline Cancer is set to face off against No. 6 Team Challenge ALS in the second round on Tuesday at 2 p.m. on ESPN.