Thompson for three... Splash! Moore from downtown... Buckets!
It was six seasons ago when Michael "Juice" Thompson and Craig Moore ran the floor together at Welsh-Ryan Arena. In just a few days, they'll get to play together again, this time in Atlanta in the South regional round of The Basketball Tournament, a fast-rising tournament featuring former NBA players and Division 1 stars.
The Basketball Tournament
Started last year, The Basketball Tournament was a 32-team single-elimination tournament. Thompson played in the inaugural tournament, and this year Moore will join him on team Krossover PPI. The champion last year won $500,000. This year, it's $1 million up for grabs and there are 96 teams split up into four regions: West (Los Angeles), Midwest (Chicago), South (Atlanta) and Northeast (Philadelphia). A 97th team, Notre Dame Fighting Alumni — last year's champion — gets an automatic bye until the Super 17 round, which starts July 23 in Chicago.
"The atmosphere is amazing," Thompson told Inside NU. "You've got to give a lot of credit to the guys who organize it and put it together. It's very professionally ran; everything is coordinated and on time."
The tournament starts July 10 and runs until August 2, and the semis and final will be broadcast on ESPN. Any team can enter, given all players are 18+ years old, and the team has to gather enough "fans" (at least 100) to enter. More details, including a complete schedule, rules and more can be found here.
The tournament brings together players of all kinds. This year, competition will include current- and former-NBA players such as Nate Robinson, Brian Scalabrine, Smush Parker, Royce White, Hakim Warrick and Jason Williams. Additionally, there are alumni teams from major Division 1 schools, including Syracuse, Virginia, Wisconsin and Oklahoma, among others.
"To me, to be honest, the biggest thing is that there's really good competition," Moore said. "You don't know how often you'll get to play against competition like this, so you want to take advantage of it."
"As a basketball player, it's exactly what you look forward to and what you want out of basketball," Thompson added. "You're playing against high-quality players each and every game and everyone's competing hard."
The Former Wildcats
Basketball didn't stop for either Thompson or Moore once their time in Evanston came to an end.
Thompson just finished his fourth season playing professionally in Europe and his third in France. Listed at 5-foot-10 and 177 pounds, Thompson, 25, played in 33 games for SPO Rouen, averaging 13.9 points per contest, third on the team behind former NBAer and Three-Point Shootout champion Daequan Cook and former North Carolina Tar Heel Sean May, who won an NCAA Championship. Juice's 4.2 assists per game led the team.
"I had a really good year," he said. "From an individual standpoint, I feel like I've improved and I've learned a lot of things over the years."
For now, Thompson is back in the Chicago area spending time with his family and working to prepare for both The Tournament and another season overseas.
Moore is currently located in the New York City area, working in private wealth management for Jeffries, a global investment banking firm. But that hasn't stopped him from playing basketball. Several times a week, he laces up his shoes to play at the prestigious New York Athletic Club.
"I play for their basketball team, which is all former Division 1 players," said Moore. Previous to that, Moore served as both an assistant coach and director of basketball operations at Princeton University.
Moore also tested the professional game overseas, playing in both the Netherlands, where he averaged 14.0 points per game in 2009-2010 for Aris Leeuwarden, and Romania, where he averaged 10.3 points per game in 2011-2012 for Gaz Metan.
Krossover PPI is made of mostly small-school players outside of Thompson and Moore. Here is their overview from thetournament.com:
GM Jordan Schur, a former D3 walk-on and international basketball agent, has been around the NYC basketball scene for years, which is where he met coach Matt Minoff, a former Yale Bulldog who, while playing professionally in Israel, started the PeacePlayers International Israeli-Palestinian branch. A joint effort of Krossover, a basketball video analysis company, and PeacePlayers, this team reflects the connections that Schur and Minoff have made in the game. Longtime overseas professionals such as Taylor Coppenrath and Charron Fisher join former Northwestern Wildcats Juice Thompson, Craig Moore and the best Division III basketball has had to offer over the past few years in 2013 NCAA Player of the Year John DiBartolomeo, 2015 Third Team All-American Alex Foster, and 2013 Third Team All-American Willy Workman.
To find out more about PeacePlayers International, check out their home page here.
Most of the team's players come from the New York area, like Moore. Last year, Moore recruited Thompson to the team, in part because they needed a point guard who could run the Princeton offense. The team lost in the semifinal in 2014.
"Craig and I keep in touch a lot to this day," Thompson said. "These guys played in similar systems to the Princeton offense. Playing together, team ball, back cuts, talking on defense, things like that. I think this year we have a pretty good team like last year. We don't have big-name guys, but we're just a group of scrappy guys out there trying to compete."
Moore added that the team's togetherness and familiarity with the system will be a major strength.
"We have guys that will run good offense, look for the best shot and move without the basketball," he said.
Could a former Wildcat team be in the future?
"Eventually, I'd love to get a Northwestern team together with other graduates," Moore added. "That'd be really fun."
To help cheer on Juice Thompson and Craig Moore, you can register as a fan of the team on The Basketball Tournament's official website, buy the team's official merchandise or follow Krossover on Twitter.