August 31, 2015

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ABA Summer League opens its doors

Published 12:15 am Saturday, June 14, 2014

Every league has a preseason, and the American Basketball Association’s Summer League is no exception.

The professional league began its two-month run in Vicksburg on Friday night with a dozen players going through a three-hour workout and scrimmage session. Another workout will follow today from 3 to 7 p.m., and games will begin in earnest next weekend.

All Summer League activities are at the Jackson Street Community Center. The games and practices are open to the public, and admission is free.

“It’s a workout night, see where guys are shape-wise, that way we can draft teams and put guys together. So tonight’s an evaluation night,” said Grant Worsley, the general manager of the ABA’s Jackson Showboats. “We’ll pick it up a little bit more tomorrow, and we’ll get a little more up and down.”

Worsley is running the league, which serves as both a developmental and offseason conditioning program for returning players, and a tryout camp for prospective free agents.

A lot of those playing Friday night fell into the last category, Worsley said.

“Some of these guys I’ve seen on video, and it’s the first time I’m seeing them live,” Worsley said.

More players will come to Vicksburg next weekend, and about 25 total will participate in the Summer League, Worsley said. They’ll be split up into four or five teams that will play games each Friday and Saturday night until Aug. 2.

All of the players in the Summer League have played at least junior college basketball. Many, such as former Grambling star Ronald Ellis, have played at the NCAA Division I level. Others, like former Vicksburg High star Jonathan Phelps, have already made a name for themselves in the ABA and are working to keep their game sharp. Phelps was an ABA All-Star last season with the Showboats.

One of the players making an early impression was former Tougaloo College star Cordaryl Campbell. He averaged 17.1 points and 8.3 rebounds in two seasons at Tougaloo, and was hoping to find a home with the Showboats as he embarks on a pro career.

“We’ve got some good talent on the team, and I think it’ll be beneficial for all of us. I think we’ll have a pretty good team once everybody gets into full shape,” Campbell said. “I’m hoping to get some new teammates, win a couple of games, and hopefully take my career farther.”