Philadelphia college basketball fans will get a glimpse of a new professional league that will involve former City 6 players when The Basketball Alumni Legends League (The-BALL) plays a showcase game on Sunday, Aug. 5 at Hagan Arena.
“We thought it would be great to provide a sampling of the product and where better than Philadelphia and D.C.,” The-BALL CEO Michael Wranovics told Philahoops.
Philahoops first reported the Aug. 5 game on Monday morning. Here is the The-BALL’s official release from Monday afternoon.
Among the players scheduled to participate are former Hawks Pat Carroll and Ahmad Nivins, former Villanova standouts Allan Ray and Curtis Sumpter, and Temple’s Dustin Salisbery and Mark Tyndale. Penn’s Zack Rosen, who will be competing on the Sixers’ summer league team, also is scheduled to compete. Philadelphia native Alvin Williams, the former Villanova star and NBA veteran, will coach the team.
The Philadelphia team will take on a group of Washington, D.C. area players in a game that will tip at 8 p.m. and be televised on Comcast SportsNet. It will be the second game of a home-and-home, with the D.C. squad hosting Philly at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 4 in a contest that also will be aired by CSN.
Wranvoics, 43, is hoping the showcase games are leaping pads for the league, which will begin play in 2013 with four teams that will include a Philadelphia entry playing a four-week schedule beginning in mid-July. The-BALL will expand to 8-12 teams in 2014 and play a 20-24 game schedule, Wranovics said.
He is not the first to try minor league professional basketball, a proposition that hasn’t always proved an easy sell. However, Wranovics’ concept is built around teams featuring local college players. The-BALL’s teams will be made up of players who have completed their eligibility, but fall just short of the NBA. Many of the players, Wranovics said, will be competing during their offseason from overseas competition. Some will want to get noticed by the NBDL, the NBA’s minor league.
“There has to be a real hook,” Wranovics said, exhibiting optimism for the success of his league. “When you only have two rounds to the NBA Draft and you’ve got over 1,000 seniors coming out of college basketball programs, you go back and look at all of the players who have come out of these schools it’s unbelievable how many great players there are. You’re basically putting together local all-star teams, local flavor and local ties to universities, that’s what makes the whole difference here.”
Wranovics, a California native and Stanford graduate who has relocated to Philadelphia, spent the last three years researching his idea and putting a team of executives in place. Once he got the players and, maybe more importantly, their agents on board, the idea blossomed.
“I was pretty sure fans would go for this because you’re talking about players fans loved to watch while they were in college and there’s no reason for that to end on senior night,” he said. “The question was are the players even available, would they and their agents be interested in this, how would the universities feel about it, would we be able to get television (and) corporate sponsors.”
The answers, apparently, have been yes. Whether the fans turn out is another question, but Wranovics is confident they will – especially in Philadelphia.
“Passion, that is something you see in Philadelphia sports fans regardless of the sport you’re talking about,” he said. “Above all else, it’s a basketball town. Now it’s just up to us to put on a good show. I’m confident we will. Once people experience The-BALL for the first time in Philadelphia, I think they’re going to want to keep coming back.”
The Philadelphia team likely will play its home games at Hagan Arena, with a strong possibility that other campus sites, like Villanova’s Pavilion, will serve as a secondary home.
Will The-BALL succeed? Time will tell, but Wranovics is hopeful.
“It will be high quality basketball at a time of year when there isn’t a lot of great sports content going on,” he said. “We’re not competing with the Phillies, no one could. But there’s definitely room for at least one other thing going on. There will be some very recognizable players and value-priced seating for families. It will be nice, air-conditioned, comfortable, live environment.”
Notes: Click here for the rosters for both teams. … For tickets and to learn more about The-BALL, visit the official site. … Stay tuned to Philahoops for more fresh content in the coming weeks. We will officially relaunch with some exciting improvements on Aug. 15