Boeheim’s Army took the The Basketball Tournament crown last night over Team 23. That gives Syracuse fans something to cheer about after seven years of agony for their beloved alums. It also gives each player an $80,000 paycheck.
But it’s possible that the title or the Zelle payment aren’t even the most valuable prizes. After Keifer Sykes sinked the game-winning three-pointer to surge Boeheim’s Army to the 69-67 win, reports came out that he had agreed to an Exhibit 10 deal with the Indiana Pacers. Exhibit 10 essentially incentivizes players to stay with team’s G-League affiliate should they not make the roster.
But regardless of how Sykes plays in Summer League and training camp, this proves that Keifer Sykes, a 27-year-old guard from Green Bay who bounced around the international basketball scene with stops in Greece, Italy, China, and Australia is finally getting his NBA shot because of The Basketball Tournament.
That’s what it’s all about. When TBT general managers recruit players, the sales pitch is not only that there is a chance for a big paycheck, but that the ESPN broadcasts will show the world what they can do, something that wasn’t possible for Sykes internationally despite averaging 16.1 points , 4.3 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game.
All it took for Sykes was five games to resurrect his NBA dream. Some would argue all it took was one shot to get his shot. This will serve as a precedent for future recruited players to TBT.
For Sykes, this is a turning point in his career. The Summer League shot the Pacers are giving him is his first, and likely his last if he doesn’t perform. But the former Wisconsin-Green Bay Phoenix is used to proving the doubters wrong. He will be playing alongside not only NBA talent on the Summer League Pacers, but current NBA players. Syracuse’s own Oshae Brissett signed a three-year deal through the 2022-2023 season. He and summer teammates Goga Bitadze, Cassius Stanley, and Amida Brimah all played for the Pacers last year. Tyrone Wallace played parts of three seasons in the league. SU’s B.J. Johnson has seen some NBA action. Devin Robinson had a cup of coffee in the league. Jordan Bone played two-ways for the past two seasons.
But none of them have as hot of a ticket as Sykes. The invitation to Las Vegas is all he needed to call TBT a resounding success. But an NBA contract that could come with this break would be the revelation he and the tournament need to skyrocket their status on the hoops scene.