|Men's Basketball Alumni to Play In Local Summer Basketball Showcase|
Three of George Mason's greatest men's basketball players will suit up together once more next weekend as part of a new summer professional hoops league. Jai Lewis, Folarin Campbell and Will Thomas, all members of Mason's 2006 Final Four run, will join alumni from other Washington-area universities as part of The Basketball Alumni Legends League (The-BALL) showcase.
The game will tip-off at 4 p.m. on Saturday, August 4, and will be broadcast live on Comcast SportsNet regional networks in Washington D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston and other markets along the East Coast.
Along with Mason's three players, Team Washington will be represented by players from Georgetown (Jason Clark, Austin Freeman, Henry Sims, Chris Wright), Maryland (John Gilchrist, James Gist, D.J. Strawberry) and Tony Taylor from George Washington.
The opponent, Team Philadelphia, will be made up of former stars from Villanova, Saint Joseph's, Temple, La Salle, Penn and Drexel. Some of the players who have agreed to participate include Allan Ray, Curtis Sumpter and Reggie Redding of Villanova, Pat Carroll and Ahmad Nivins of Saint Joseph's, Ramone Moore, Dionte Christmas, Mark Tyndale, Ryan Brooks, and Dustin Salisbery of Temple, Zack Rosen of Penn, and Frank Elegar of Drexel.
"We couldn't be happier about the players and coaches we have been able to attract to these events," said The-BALL founder and CEO, Michael Wranovics. "Both teams have all of the star power, collegiate ties, and local flavor that we had always hoped for, and we're not done yet." According to Wranovics, additional player commitments are to be announced over the next 1-2 weeks.
Head coaches have also been selected for the two teams. The Washington team will be led by Phil Hubbard, a 10-year NBA veteran and former assistant coach with the Washington Wizards. Working the other sideline for the Philadelphia squad will be Alvin Williams, former Villanova star, 11-year NBA veteran, and current Director of Player Development with the NBA's Toronto Raptors.
On August 5, the day after the game in Foggy Bottom, there will be a rematch in Philadelphia at Hagan Arena on the campus of Saint Joseph's University. That Sunday night game will tip off at 8 p.m. ET and will also be aired live locally on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic.
Some players who have agreed to participate in The-BALL Showcase are in a unique situation in that they need to be available for potential tryout opportunities with NBA teams. Any scheduling conflict with the August 5th date could mean that a player would have to opt out.
The-BALL announced plans last month to launch a full-fledged professional league next summer in college basketball hotbed markets along the East Coast. The new league's teams will feature former college standouts from the local universities, designed to give the teams instant star power and a built-in fan base. The-BALL's season will run from early June to mid-August, filling a void for basketball fans and giving top players a high-quality professional hoops alternative during their off-season break between seasons in the NBA D-League or overseas.
The-BALL will begin play in the summer of 2013 with a four-team "soft launch" as a sneak preview of the league to come. One of those first four teams is expected to be in Philadelphia. The league has begun identifying qualified local ownership candidates for that team.
In 2014, The-BALL plans to expand to eight teams, each playing a 20-game schedule. Markets under consideration include Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York, Syracuse, Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, Richmond (Va.), and Hartford (Conn.), among others.