Back from Lithuania, Jon Elmore set to lead Herd That into the TBT a third time

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Like many players that will compete in the 64-team The Basketball Tournament later this month, Marshall University graduate Jon Elmore just concluded a lengthy professional season in Europe. He and his Herd That teammates face a quick turnaround to prepare for the West Virginia regional, which begins on July 24 at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.

Elmore wrapped up his collegiate playing career at Marshall in 2019. Over the next two years, the George Washington High School grad and Charleston native played in Italy, Greece and Hungary. This past season, Elmore averaged a team-best 16.4 points and 5.8 assists per game playing for Siauliai in the top division in Lithuania.

“Lithuania is a pretty solid-level league. Throughout Europe, it is well-respected. There are high-level guys there,” Elmore said. “It was a pretty good experience for me because I was coming off a good year. I had good momentum in Europe. I went to Lithuania to try to continue climbing the ladder and keep that momentum going. I succeeded in that. I am super-grateful for the opportunity I had there.”

Herd That has been selected as the No. 4 seed in the West Virginia regional of the TBT. They will face James Madison alumni team Founding Fathers Sunday, July 24 at 5 p.m. in the quarterfinal round.

“What people don’t understand is how high-level the TBT is. What you are dealing with, the majority of the players that aren’t in the NBA, they are pretty much, basically the best players in the world. There’s only so many slots in the NBA. A lot of these guys playing in the TBT have either had small stints in the NBA or have been super close.

“It is just a great opportunity. We are playing on ESPN in Charleston. Like we were talking about, it is high, high-level basketball in the middle of the summer with that one [million] dollar prize incentive that you might be able to walk away with. I don’t think it gets much better than that.”

Nine players are currently listed on the Herd That roster. Six are former Marshall players.

“We’ve got a new big man from Western Kentucky who just gave us fits when I was at Marshall. He played in Italy this year and had a big year — Justin Johnson. He is from Kentucky, right across the water from West Virginia. So he is kind of a West Virginian at heart. It is good to add some of those guys. It is just a matter of trying to mesh as well as possible and have as much chemistry as possible.”

Jon’s brother Ot Elmore will compete with Herd That for the third consecutive year. Ot was instrumental in Herd That’s run to the 2020 TBT quarterfinals. Ot recently completed his second year of law school.

“I want to say he got a 4.0. The dude is incredibly book smart. I have to give him a shout out,” Jon Elmore said.

Ot Elmore advances Herd That in the TBT bracket in 2020. (Photo by Ben Solomon)

“He told me that the past few weeks, he has been away in the mountains doing a “Rocky”-style training camp to get mentally and physically ready for this. I am expecting big things.”

Herd That has an all-time TBT record of 3-2 after they advanced to the second round last summer. Elmore says the single-elimination competition creates added pressure on every possession.

“In college, you play Thursday-Saturday or Friday-Sunday. There’s no, ‘Hey, we are going to bounce back’. It is like, ‘Dude, you have to capitalize’. You can’t have little mistakes. I remember last year when we got beat by Team 23, they had an out of bounds play and we miscommunicated and they shot a layup. They ended up winning by one point. That little layup right there was probably one of the crucial plays that ended up beating us,” Jon Elmore said.

“There’s such a thin line in this between winning and losing when you are playing for that much money and guys are playing so hard. But man, it makes it fun.”

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