ALL DIVVIED UP
Some of the players N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried will be counting on this season rolled into the Durham School of the Arts gym Tuesday night as the S.J.G. Greater NC Pro-Am resumed after a week off for the Fourth of July.
A handful of Wolfpack players including top recruit Anthony “Cat” Barber, a 6-foot-2 guard, incoming 6-9 freshman forward Kyle Washington and Alabama junior transfer guard Trevor Lacey came through the door togther but couldn’t play as a group.
A new NCAA rule limits to two the number of players from a particular college on each pro-am team, league compliance director and co-founder Chuck Jones said.
This is the sixth season of the pro-am, a summer league that includes professional, college and now high school players.
Pro-am teams always have included just two returning players from a particular college, yet those pro-am teams had been allowed to be rounded out with that same college’s incoming freshmen and transfers but no longer, Jones said.
“I wish we didn’t have to do that,” pro-am co-founder and NBA veteran Jerry Stackhouse said, preferring to keep a college team’s players together during the summer league. “It makes the game more exciting. It kind of gives them an identity, gives the team an identity as an N.C. State team, a Duke team or a Carolina team.
“It is what it is. We’ll work around it.”
No players from Duke or North Carolina played on Tuesday. UNC’s Leslie McDonald was in the gym for opening night on June 27, but he didn’t suit up for any floor time.
Some N.C. Central players were in the gym on Tuesday but didn’t play. Among them were Emanuel Chapman and Jay Copeland, who is injured and was wearing a walking boot.
The pro-am since its inception had been played at NCCU, which meant high school players could not participate, the NCAA viewing the venue as a recruiting advantage for the university that was transitioning to Division I when the league launched.
Pro-am organizers moving the summer league to DSA opened the door to high school players, creating momentum toward getting to the heart and soul of what the league’s founders had in mind from the very beginning.
Jones, Stackhouse and co-founder Donyell Bryant, childhood buddies from Kinston, envisioned a league wherein the older players would mentor the younger ones.
“It’s a lot of talent, man,” Stackhouse said, in the bleachers checking out the high school players who were finding their way out there with the college guys. “It’s good for them just to get out there and bump and grind with some of the older, mature players. I think it does wonders for their game.”
Moving from the physicality of the high school game to that of college ball requires a learning curve, Stackhouse said.
“A lot of times you don’t get that until college,” Stackhouse said. “That’s why there’s an adjustment for high school guys going to college.”
Southern High School guard Amari Hamilton played on Tuesday and said the game was faster and had more bumping than what he’s used to at the prep level.
“It’s a little more physical,” Hamilton said.
Southern High big man Isaiah Maurice looked more confident and stronger than he did last season in the PAC-6. He credited his trainer, Darryl Harris. Southern coach Kendrick Hall said he’s been trying to get Maurice to fall in love with the weight room.
Stackhouse said he’s been running up and down the court elsewhere since the NBA season ended. He’ll keep busy as first vice president of the NBA Players Association but said there’s some more ball in him should an NBA squad need a veteran to fill out the roster.
“If they’re looking for an old guy, I’m still available,” Stackhouse said.