St. Louis Basketball Team Competes on ESPN for $1 Million

DaGuys STL's team includes YouTubers, Christian Brothers College High School alums and Jayson Tatum's dad

Jul 15, 2022 at 10:26 am
click to enlarge Most of DaGuys STL played high-level division 1 basketball and now play professionally across the world. - VIA DAGUYS STL
Most of DaGuys STL played high-level division 1 basketball and now play professionally across the world.

It’s summer break at Christian Brothers College High School, and the halls are quiet. The cafeteria is pitch black, the parking lot is empty and the campus feels eerie.

But in the basketball gym, a team is going at it. Bodies are flying, elbows are banging and trash talk fills the air.

“Too fucking little!”


“Good shot, Tom!”

Coach Justin Tatum watches courtside, standing underneath state championship banners as the team competes in the drill.

“Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!” he encourages.

A few minutes in, Blake Bommarito threads a curving pass through a sliver of space between defenders. The ball lands perfectly in De'Marco Owens' hands as he cuts to the basket. Owens dunks it with ease, turning back to continue the drill.

But Tatum stops Owens, chastising him for not dapping up his teammate.

“You didn’t say, ‘Blake, good pass!’” Tatum tells Owens.

Despite their presence in the high school gym, this is not the CBC team.

This is DaGuys STL, a team of professional basketball players that formed to compete in The Basketball Tournament, a national, single-elimination, 64-team tourney with a $1 million winner-take-all prize for the last team standing.

The games are broadcast on ESPN and attract some of the top talent from around the world. NBA and NCAA players can’t play in the tournament, but pretty much everyone else can — overseas players, G-League players, streetball legends and former NBA stars.

“Unless you're in the NBA or currently playing college basketball, you want to be in the TBT,” says Beau Bommarito, a player and self-appointed general manager of the team.

Many squads have a theme to bring the players together. Sometimes it's their college alma mater or a charity organization.

But DaGuys STL, named after its YouTube channel, is a collection of guys from St. Louis.

“We want to represent the city and make the city proud,” Bommarito says.

The core of the team attended CBC, where they played under Coach Tatum, winning a state championship in 2014.

“It feels like home a little bit,” says Jordan Barnes, who played at Indiana State University and now plays professionally in Germany. “We all know each other."
click to enlarge (From left) Blake Bommarito, Beau Bommarito and Tommy Moldthan are members of DaGuys STL. They also run the YouTube page DaGuys. - VIA DAGUYS STL
(From left) Blake Bommarito, Beau Bommarito and Tommy Moldthan are members of DaGuys STL. They also run the YouTube page DaGuys.

Most of DaGuys STL played high-level division 1 basketball and now play professionally across the world — from Hungary to Germany to Mexico to the Dominican Republic. The team is highlighted, most notably, by former Kansas State University star D.J. Johnson and University of Missouri star Jordan Barnett, both of whom have played in the NBA’s minor league system.

But competition is stiff in TBT. In its first-round match-up on Saturday, July 16, at 1 p.m. CST, DaGuys STL will compete on ESPN against Team Arkansas, a team of University of Arkansas alumni that includes eight staff members and four former NBA players.

Team Arkansas is the two-seed and a favorite to win the tournament. This is its third year in the tournament.

DaGuys STL, with no ex-NBA players and just one coach, is the seventh seed. This is the team's first year playing in the tournament.

“They painted the picture of us as the YouTube channel,” Tommy Moldthan says. “We've got nothing to lose.”

To understand this basketball team, you have to understand the start of the YouTube channel.

After attending Christian Brothers together, Tommy Moldthan, Blake Bommarito and Beau Bommarito went their separate ways for college. Despite the distance, they stayed in close contact, messaging in a group chat, “DaGuys,” and visiting each other five to 10 times a year.

Then the pandemic hit in 2020, and they were back in St. Louis again. Moldthan had just been furloughed, and Blake was “bored out of his mind” selling cars, Moldthan remembers.

One day, they were just sitting around the house, antsy to do something.

“We were bored in the house, and we said, ‘Let's go do something.’ And we're like, ‘All right, well, let's film a video of us shooting trick shots,’” Moldthan says.

The moment spawned the YouTube channel, DaGuys. Two years later, the page has nearly 20,000 subscribers.

The YouTube page features videos made by a number of their high school friends, including the Bommarito brothers, Moldthan, Jalen Wadlington, Parker Cordova and Darian Bass.

At first, they posted an assortment of videos — prank videos, trick shots and scripted skits.  After some time, they began filming their basketball games in rec leagues around the city. They posted the videos to YouTube, and fans latched on.

Really, though, fans latched on to DaGuys’ goofy personalities. DaGuys will mic themselves up during games and troll opposing players. They meow during free throws, sing the little teapot song midgame, dance around opposing players after a big dunk and call them a “plankton” after scoring. They do so while dressing as players from the Will Ferrell basketball comedy, Semi-Pro.
But the TBT team is not YouTubers disguised as basketball players. It is stacked with professionals who make their livings playing basketball.

Take Jordan Barnes, for example. He starred on the 2014 CBC state championship team and played four years at Indiana State, where he earned all-conference honors. He just finished his first season playing overseas in Germany and recently signed a contract to return next year.

After practice, he’s the last person out of the gym, lounging on the bleachers and checking his phone. It’s been a busy day — before team practice, he lifted and had a basketball workout in the morning.

But he’s not done with basketball for the day, he says. After the team practice, he has one more evening workout.

“There’s nothing to be nervous about,” Barnes says about TBT. “It’s just going out there and competing, playing at the highest level, enjoying the game of basketball.”

When DaGuys STL takes the floor on Saturday in Ohama, Beau says fans can still expect some entertainment. They’re going to play fast, they’re going to dunk, they’re going to talk some trash and they’re going to entertain the crowd. Moldthan even hinted that they might wear wigs.

“If you know DaGuys at all, you could expect some fireworks, whether that's on the court, on the bench or off the court in some way — we're going to make our presence known,” Beau Bommarito says.

But DaGuys STL isn’t playing in TBT just to make a YouTube video. They’re trying to win six games and $1 million.

“We’re the underdogs for sure,” Bommarito says.. “But St. Louis is a city of underdogs. We've been an underdog with DaGuys and what we do with our channel …

“We've always been proving people wrong from the very start, so why not prove people wrong with this tournament, right now?”

This story has been updated.