Jul. 22—Tyler Nelson's year ... or really great year ... really started last July in the TBT (The Basketball Tournament).
He was added to the Nerd Team roster of the 2021 TBT on the recommendation of a teammate in Germany, who had previously played at Harvard University.
The TBT is a sudden death tournament — you lose, you go home — consisting mostly of former pro and college players on 64 teams.
The winning team gets $1 million to share. All other teams get a free trip.
Last year, The Nerds lost a barn-burner in its maiden voyage to Blue Collar U, 88-82, with Nelson the star of the game, scoring 24 points.
BCU eventually went on to the Final Four before losing.
Nelson was invited back as The Nerd Team opens today at 5 p.m. (on ESPN3) in the Syracuse, N.Y. region, against the defending champion and host Boeheim's Army.
The Nerd Team, in its second year, includes nine "players from some of the top academic institutions who value the academic rigor while excelling on the court and in the community."
"We have a new roster this year, for the most part, but we look pretty good," said Nelson, after three days of practice. "Our point guard just graduated from Notre Dame and we have a 2,000-point scorer from Yale on the wing with me."
A year ago, Nelson had just signed a one-year deal to go back to Germany. After his TBT performance he got some interest to play in the NBA Summer League. But it conflicted with his attending preseason camp with his German team.
Then Nelson went on to star in Germany, leading his Rostock Seawolves team to a championship (Nelson was named MVP) and the team's elevation in the First Division in the Germany.
He took June off and got back in the swing of things, working out at Cedardale with his dad and NBA scout, Jeff Nelson.
"I needed the time off. It was a physical and mental grind," said Nelson. "But I'm really looking forward to this event. It's a lot of fun."
The format is five on five, with four 9-minute quarters.
Unlike normal basketball games, these end with scoring not by the clock expiring. The first whistle after the four-minute mark the fourth quarter, whatever the score is, say 70-68, eight points are added to team in the lead, meaning the first team to 78 wins.
If Nelson's team wins today, it will play again on Saturday and, if they win, again on Sunday.