Thursday morning, just before 9 a.m., Ronald Moore put the notice out on Twitter.
With The Basketball Tournament — a $2 million, winner-take-all event — coming up in July, Moore was itching to play, with just one problem. The Siena College legend still needed a team.
“Anybody need a guard for @thetournament? I’m available lol,” Moore tweeted Thursday at 8:56 a.m.
It, uh, didn’t take very long.
At 12:03 p.m., the official Twitter account of the Fort Wayne Champs posted a roster announcement that Moore — Siena’s all-time leader in assists and the player who made both the game-tying and game-winning 3-pointers in the Saints’ 2009 double-overtime NCAA Tournament win over Ohio State — had joined their squad for the 2020 TBT.
“I just wanted to see if I could hop on a team,” Moore said in a phone interview Monday. “I wasn’t expecting that to happen that fast, but it did.”
Three different teams that are trying to enter the tournament quickly followed Moore on Twitter and reached out, but it was the Champs who landed his services. Moore got in touch with general manager Garrett Martz through former University of Georgia standout Travis Leslie, a teammate of Moore’s this past season in France who played for the Champs in the 2019 TBT.
“I ended up choosing that squad over the other two who had contacted me,” Moore said.
This year’s TBT was scheduled to be a 64-team event with regionals played at eight sites across the country in late July and early August before the quarterfinals through the finals were to be held in Dayton, Ohio from Aug. 6-11.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced a number of changes, as the tournament field will be cut down to 24 teams and held at a single, fully quarantined site that has yet to be announced — though Moore said he heard it will likely be Columbus, Ohio. The field is expected to be announced later this month, and while more than 100 teams have applied, who makes the cut comes down to fan support on social media and through TBT’s official website.
“It’s a good thing that they’re putting the safety of the players first,” Moore said. “I also looked at it as an opportunity since you don’t have to win as many games as you normally would to win it all.”
The Basketball Tournament was founded in 2014, and Moore played in the first five editions before taking 2019 off due to the birth of his son.
This year, having been at home with his family since late March, Moore was ready to go.
“Normally, I don’t get home until the end of May,” Moore said. “The motivation to get out there and play at that high level a month after that is usually not that high. Usually, I go in not as prepared as I normally would be, since I’ve been taking some time off. Having a break from basketball for about two months already, and seeing that TBT was still on, I definitely wanted to reach out to see if I could hop on anybody’s team and I was shocked at how quickly people reached out to me.”
Moore has played professionally in Europe since 2010, playing for teams in Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Ukraine and Italy before signing with Elan Bearnais in France’s top league last summer.
Moore has been back home outside Philadelphia since March 20, when he left his French team as concerns over the pandemic mounted.
“The league wasn’t canceled at the time,” Moore said, “but I spoke with my team and told them I felt better with having my family — because they were out there with me — back here stateside. The decision was made that I would fly back if and when the season would resume. . . . I’ve been home since that time.”
Eleven days after Moore returned home, LNB Pro A suspended its season, and last Wednesday the league canceled the remainder of the season.
In the last two weeks, Moore has started to get himself back into playing shape, working on strength and conditioning and getting some shots up on a hoop at his house.
“Getting into my daily offseason regimen,” he said. “That way, if we do get in, when it’s time to go out there, I’ll be ready to go.”
All that’s left is for the Fort Wayne Champs — a team mostly made up of players who played professionally in Fort Wayne, Indiana, plus select outsiders like Moore — to be accepted into the field.
That’ll be up to the fans.
“That’s definitely the key,” Moore said. “Once the fans are involved, that’s what it’s all about. Hopefully, we can get enough fans to vote for us for the team I joined to be one of those 24 teams.”
Reach Adam Shinder at [email protected] or @Adam_Shinder on Twitter.