CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Jon Elmore was denied the chance to continue playing in The Basketball Tournament (TBT) when the Marshall-based Herd That team was eliminated in the second round by Team 23, 74-71.
Elmore, a 6-foot-3 guard, scored 49 points over two TBT games, 21 in an opening-round win over Team DRC and 28 in the loss.
Strong offensive outputs are nothing new to the Charleston native, who left Marshall as Conference USA’s all-time leading scorer and still lays claim to that feat.
Elmore, who has played two professional seasons in Italy and then in Hungary and Greece, maintains playing in the NBA remains his dream.
“I can take the humble route and say whatever. I’m tired of it,” Elmore said. “I’m an NBA player — point blank period. I’m going to get there one day. I’m betting on myself. I fully believe that. Nobody is outworking me, as you see on the court. When I step on it, I don’t care who I’m matched up with. I’m going to work and trying to win the game. Good chance I’m going to bust your ass. Pardon my language, but that’s just the way I was raised.
“I’m from Charleston, West Virginia and most people don’t even know where that is,” Elmore continued. “There’s a chip on my shoulder, but my goal is to get there and I think I will. I think I should be there, but take it one step at a time.”
Elmore’s second professional season was a productive one. While playing with Ionikos Nikaias in Greece and Sopron KC in Hungary, he combined to average 15.8 points over 20 games, while playing 31.8 minutes on average. As a member of Sopron KC for 15 of those contests, Elmore averaged 17.3 points, 3.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds and shot better than 47 percent.
In TBT play, Elmore made 16-of-33 field-goal attempts and 6 of 14 from 3-point range, along with 11-of-12 free throws.
To this point, Elmore’s only NBA experience came playing for the Boston Celtics in 2019 summer league action, just months after he wrapped up his memorable career with 2,638 career points for the Thundering Herd.
“Everybody has a different journey,” Elmore said. “Look at P.J. Tucker. Ten years ago, he was in the Ukraine. We’ll see what happens at the end of the day.”
Elmore’s offensive ability extends well beyond his ability to score, though that remains his best asset. He’s consistently proven to be a threat from the perimeter and make challenged shots, and in the TBT, he often created his own shot or high percentage looks for teammates while playing off the bounce.
Elmore, who totaled eight assists in the two games, had a highlight-worthy three-point play in the loss to Team 23 that saw him capitalize on a switch with 6-11 Daniel Ochefu with a quick crossover that led to a driving bucket through contact.
That play, along with many others, caught the attention of former Tennessee standout and current Celtics forward Grant Williams. Williams referenced Elmore on social media in a Tweet that said: ‘@elmore33 is eating up [right now] @thetournament!! Remember from summer league practices/games. My dude can hoop!!’
Nobody had a closer look at Elmore, who will turn 25 in December, than his TBT backcourt mate Stevie Browning. Browning, a Logan native, played at Fairmont State and Marshall and is now a graduate assistant with the Thundering Herd.
“He did it in college, he does it in the pros, he does it in the TBT,” Browning said. “I don’t get what they’re not seeing. His percentages were great overseas. He passes the ball like a point guard should. He defends. I don’t get what the knock or hold-up is. He’s proven he can do everything. He should be in the NBA.”