Bachketball: The story of the first Bachelor Nation basketball tournament

Matteo Valles, Dustin Kendrick, Tyler Cameron and Clay Harbor at "Bachketball Day" / FanSided
Matteo Valles, Dustin Kendrick, Tyler Cameron and Clay Harbor at "Bachketball Day" / FanSided /

Bachelorette suitors develop a (mostly) affectionately competitive rapport during their time on the show. Dustin, Tyler, Clay and Matteo brought that energy home and to the basketball court. FanSided brought the cameras.

One of the more surprising things that comes out of the Bachelor mansion is friendship. After the show ends, many of the contestants come away with lifelong friends. At times, the unique, shared experience can build stronger bonds between contestants than that of the Bachelorette and her chosen suitor.

This past season was no different. And as is custom between good friends, competitions arose. One of the more prominently featured conversations between this past season’s bachelors was in regards to who was the best basketball player. Bachelorette season 15 alums Tyler Cameron, Dustin Kendrick, Connor Saeli, Mike Johnson and Dylan Barbour have all been active on social media about the topic. Clay Harbor got in on the action as well, boasting his own basketball skills, boosted by the athleticism required to hold a lengthy NFL career. Finally, Matteo Valles, who admittedly has less to offer on the court, could put their cardio and endurance to the test.

While the ultimate Bachelorette basketball tournament would be difficult to schedule, a few of the contestants were recently together for the Chicago Marathon, raising money for ABC Food Tours in the process.

FanSided brought Dylan, Clay, Tyler and Matteo together to put their skills to the test.

The Origin Story

It’s no surprise that sticking 30 contestants into a mansion and giving them little to do outside of dating the same person would be a hot bed to breed competition. The Bachelor mansion is where the bachelors and bachelorettes spend the bulk of their time on the show. Obviously, they have to keep busy somehow. Naturally, competing against each other happens more than in just the dating.

FanSided spoke to a few Bachelor contestants who were in the house with our “bach-ketballers” to gauge the competitive spirit formed between them in the mansion. The answers were all very similar. It’s competitive, but for the most part, in a good way.

“I think it definitely fuels competition among the guys,” says season 15 contestant Connor Saeli,  “When you are all technically competing for the same girl, naturally you get competitive in other areas. Everyone always wants to outshine each other.”

Mike Johnson added that the competition came from many places: “When we have fun group dates involving an activity, from walking the runway to playing rugby, competition can be beautiful if done right! It brings out the best in us.”

The contestants all shared the same sentiment when asked about competition. For the most part, it brings out the best in them.

“It bleeds over into everything else we do,” said season 15’s Connor Jenkins, who also added that he spent a good part of the first night playing the bachelorette party games he set up for Hannah with fellow contestant John Paul Jones. “It’s not malicious, we don’t want to win at the expense of anyone else (most of us at least) but we all want to win.”

The Chicago Players

Dustin Kendrick (season 15): Dustin was one of the more well-liked guys from The Bachelorette season 15. He loves basketball, the city of Chicago and his dog Sophia. He also possesses all the athletic skills required to take the top spot on the Bachelor basketball list, but does he have the grit required to bang with the football players? We’ll find out.

Clay Harbor (season 14): Clay is ridiculously athletic. He played nine years in the NFL (definitely not a “failed NFL career”). He has over 1000 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns in his career. At about 260 pounds, he’s a unit in the paint. He’s also running an Instagram fitness page, so you know he hasn’t lost a step. If any of the others want to score on Clay, they’ll have to get around him (which will not be easy).

Matteo Valles (season 15): Matteo is the clear underdog of the group. He’s very aware of this, but also aware that he has the best cardio of the four athletes. He flat out told FanSided that if any of the others caught him in the Chicago Marathon that weekend, he’d know he was having a bad race (they didn’t catch him). Matteo doesn’t have the smoothest-looking shot, but he’s efficient, like a Bachelor version of Lonzo Ball.

Tyler Cameron (season 15): The Bachelorette runner-up is the hands down favorite coming into the contest, likely in-part due to all the trash he’s been talking online. Tyler is an athlete. He had a decent college football career and has recently compared himself to LeBron James in a piece with GQ. Confidence is half the battle and Tyler talks the talk, but how does he stack up against our fellow bachelors?

Related Story. Bachketball scouting reports. light

The Game

Finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Who is the current, undisputed Bachelor Nation basketball champion? Dustin, Tyler, Clay and Matteo hit the hardwood with FanSided to settle their differences.

There you have it. Tyler Cameron had every ounce of his promised flash and charisma, and Dustin and Matteo put up a good fight, but Clay Harbor was too much for anyone to handle in a one-on-one basketball game.

With one answer comes many questions. How would a team from season 14 stack up against season 15’s suitors? What do Dylan Barbour, Connor Saeli and Mike Johnson have to say about the current champ Clay? These questions will go unanswered for now… but don’t expect the trash talking to stop. This was only chapter one.

Please donate to ABC Food Tours and huge thanks to Dustin Kendrick, Tyler Cameron, Clay Harbor and Matteo Valles for participating.