Hello to my new best friends.

My name is Ricky O’Donnell and I’ve been working in digital sports media for about 13 years. I’ve spent the last eight years running (or helping run) NBA and college basketball coverage at SB Nation.

I started this site to continue a project I was working on at SB Nation during the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s what’s happening at this page in the immediate future:

We’re trying to turn Western Illinois into the greatest college basketball program ever in ‘College Hoops 2K8’

College Hoops 2K8 is the last college basketball video game made by 2K Sports. I started the playing the game again with the goal of winning the national championship with one of the worst teams in the game: the Western Illinois Leathernecks.

I don’t actually “play” the games — I simulate all of them while doing the recruiting. I’ve been writing my way through the series over the last month, and the reception has been amazing. Hundreds of thousands of people have read the series through its first four installments at SB Nation. More than 7,000 people have subscribed for email updates so far at this site. The first email sent out from here chronicling the start of Year 8 had an 80 percent open rate.

Here’s a refresher on the entire seasons so far:

Spoilers ahead, so stop scrolling here if you don’t want to read them









Hang the banners!

The new goal for this series? To try to make Western Illinois the best college basketball program of all time. The game lets us coach for 40 seasons.

The emails and tweets I’ve received from fans of the series have seriously made my day/week/month during a time when I was feeling so much anxiety about my job. Please check to make sure you’re getting the emails from Substack and reach out to me if you’re not at richardpodonnell@gmail.com.

My work at SB Nation

My most recent position at SB Nation was as Basketball Editor, where I led our NBA and college basketball teams. In addition to coordinating coverage and editing writers, I also wrote something myself pretty much every day. I led all SB Nation writers in traffic in 2020 and was second among authors on the site in 2019.

At SB Nation, I carved out a niche covering the pipeline from high school to the NBA. I was a credentialed reporter at the Final Four four different times, and covered the NBA Draft combine annually. I’ve covered everything in the basketball world from the NBA All-Star Game to the McDonald’s All-American Game to “AAU” leagues put on by Nike and Under Armour. I’ve done original reporting, written features on future stars, churned out mock drafts, and wrote incisive analysis on a daily basis.

People also know me from my work writing about the Chicago Bulls. I have covered the franchise through the brief good times, and the more considerable bad times. After helping lead the ‘Fire GarPax’ movement for years, I am excited to write about a new era for the franchise. You can get my Bulls thoughts every week on the Cash Considerations podcast which I host with Jason Patt.

You can reach me at richardpodonnell@gmail.com.

What is Tremendous Upside Potential?

TUP is what I called my first blog, way back in 2007, as an ode to an old Bill Simmons joke. I wrote about Chicago sports there every day until I got my first shot at SB Nation in 2011. When I was forced to think of a publication name for this site, I figured I might as well go back to my roots.

Sign up now so you don’t miss the first issue.

In the meantime, tell your friends!


Ricky O'Donnell
SB Nation. Trying to win the national championship with Western Illinois in 'College Hoops 2K8'.