Talmadge L. Hill Field House at Morgan State University. Photo via The Basketball Tournament/Twitter.

The Basketball Tournament, a hyper-competitive, cash-prize summertime basketball showcase, is coming back to Baltimore.

Morgan State University will play host to the final two rounds of the tournament on Aug. 2-3, organizers announced last week. As with last year, when the tourney came to Coppin State University, ESPN will be televising all games.

“The Basketball Tournament has grown into a summer staple in an incredibly short amount of time, given the typical developmental runway for a sports property,” said tournament founder and CEO Jon Mugar in a statement. “This year was our toughest decision yet, as we received interest from so many great cities that wanted to bring TBT to their communities. We’re excited by this year’s lineup of host venues, and confident the arenas will be filled with passionate fans to supply the incredible atmosphere that’s become synonymous with TBT over the years.”

Richmond and Columbus will be hosting earlier TBT rounds for the first time in the competition’s five-year history, while Baltimore, Atlanta, Brooklyn and Los Angeles will repeat as host cities.

The 2017 tournament brought hometown hero Carmelo Anthony into the mix, with Melo serving as an honorary host and organizing with city leaders and community groups to hold a Day of Service, which featured cleanups, job fairs and more in underserved neighborhoods. (Read about the significance of the veteran NBA star returning home in my report here for City Paper.)

This year, 72 teams—eight more than last year—will be competing for a $2 million cash prize, plus some international bragging rights. Many of the squads are made up of professional ballplayers (some from the NBA, others from overseas), playground legends and former college stars.

“We want to give basketball players the ability to show they belong, where maybe people told them that they don’t belong, and people who haven’t been signed into the NBA or, for whatever reason, haven’t caught on,” Mugar told CP before last summer’s tourney. “We’re giving them a platform to prove people wrong.”

The 2017 TBT victors, Overseas Elite, secured the rare three-peat after also winning in 2015 and 2016.

Baltimore traditionally sends at least one team, City of Gods (named for the shop in Hollins Market), and Coppin State men’s basketball head coach Juan Dixon has coached a team of regional players dubbed DMV’s Finest in previous years.

TBT is taking applications from teams from April 2 through June 1. Fans can help to decide who gets in by voting online and hyping their picks on social media. ESPN will be televising all games starting July 13.

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...