Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators guard KeVaughn Allen (5) scored 18 points tonight against the UNF at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Gataverse Ready for TBT

For the 10th consecutive year, The Basketball Tournament will take center stage in the summer sports world. This year, however, brings something special to Gator fans. For the first time in its history, TBT will have a team full of University of Florida alumni.

Gataverse, coached by former director of basketball operations and assistant coach at UF, Matt McCall, is comprised of all former Gator players who will look to take home the $1 million winner-take-all grand prize.

Meet the Team

The general manager of Gataverse is Brian Klatsky. He is the founder and president of OpenLocker, a fan engagement company that gives name, image and likeness deals to student athletes. He is also the father of current Gator guard Alex Klatsky.

Gataverse is built around former players from the back-to-back championship teams in 2006 and 2007 and more recent stars of the younger generation.

One of the most notable players is Myreon Jones, who was with Florida from 2021-23. Other recent Gators are Phlandrous Fleming Jr., Keith Stone, KeVaughn Allen and Egor Koulechov. Some of the former champions are Lee Humphrey, Corey Brewer and Taurean Green.

Run it Back Classic

Saturday, Gataverse will give the public a chance to watch the team play in person before the TBT begins. They will host a scrimmage called the “Run it Back Classic” at Santa Fe College.

Gataverse will also be hosting a Fan Fest before the game where fans will get to meet current Gator athletes across all sports. These student athletes will be signing autographs and taking pictures with fans. Florida graduate transfer EJ Jarvis and current running back Trevor Etienne will join dozens of other athletes at Fan Fest.

Coach McCall joined Sports Scene to talk about Gataverse and the events Saturday.

Preparing for Shellshock

Tuesday, Gataverse will take on Shell Shock in the first round of TBT. Shell Shock is a Maryland alumni team that will also be making its tournament debut this year. They are highlighted by former Terps Robert Carter, Darryl Morsell and Roddy Peters.

McCall talked about how hard it is to prepare for a team you have never seen before.

Gataverse is a team that was put together over the past few months, but they will be practicing together for the first time Thursday. Because they got together so late, the chemistry between the players will not be on point right away.

McCall mentioned how they have so little time to practice before their first tournament game.

Gataverse’s Road to $1 Million

Gataverse will make its TBT debut on Tuesday against Shell Shock at 4 p.m. at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky. Just like the NCAA tournament, this is a 64-team, single-elimination tournament. If Gataverse wins its first round matchup, they will play the winner of Gutter Cats and The Nawf on July 27.

The Louisville Regional championship will take place July 29 at noon. If the team of former Gators are able to win that, they will stay in Kentucky for the tournament quarterfinals July 31. The semifinals and championship game will be Aug. 2 and 3 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

About Hugh Green

Hugh is a third year student majoring in Journalism: Sports and Media at the University of Florida.

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