Chicago, IL- The Premier Basketball League (PBL) has taken another step closer to the start of the 2014/15 season with a successful league wide combine held this past weekend in Chicago, IL.
The combine, which included over 250 applicants, kicked off bright and early with a first group of players looking to become a piece of history and showcase their skills to owners, general managers and coaches from all 12 teams around the league. This early morning group was comprised of athletes with primarily prep school, lower NCAA, NAIA and some minor league experience.
Select “rookies” were held over to participate in the second group of the combine and showcase their skills against the best professional athletes and NCAA players from across the country. More in-depth drills such as 30-point scoring, 3-on-2 weaves and other drills were performed to help PBL coaches and general managers accurately evaluate player skills.
One of the more impressive stations at the combine involved a special piece of technology, the 94Fifty ball. This is a smart sensor basketball that accurately tracks shot arc, shot speed and backspin of a player’s shot. A simple app was accessible to owners and coaches on their phones so they could track a player’s statistics while using the ball.
“I think the ball was phenomenal. It allows us to evaluate and give instant feed back to every player on their fundamental shooting skills by using real live stats” stated Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, Dennis Truax.
All activities during the combine were filmed and recorded as part of a television special for the league’s official network, Soul of the South. Included in this Soul of the South television special will be the highlights and personal story of Chicago native Tyrone Johnson. Television cameras will tell the story of his ups and downs leading up to the combine and the outcome of his dream to becoming a part of the big leagues.
Following Saturday’s league combine will be the PBL draft where teams will look to sign the player they believe will help lead them to the 2015 championship series. The three-round draft will be September 8th beginning at 7pm Eastern Time.
Rochester, NY— The Rochester RazorSharks have announced that combo guard Corey Allmond will join RazorSharks mainstay Jerice Crouch in the team’s backcourt for the upcoming 2015 PBL season. Allmond played with the Maine Red Claws of the NBA’s Developmental League last year.
After making headlines during his senior year of college at Sam Houston State in 2010, including a 37-point outburst against a Kentucky Wildcats squad featuring future NBA talent such as John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, and Demarcus Cousins, Allmond has spent the past three years working on his game in the NBA D-League. Allmond has averaged 7.6 points and 1.8 rebounds per game over the course of his D-League career, including a career-high 15.5 points and 3 rebounds per game in 2012 for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
“He’s a great shooter, but he can also finish at the basket and defend at a high level,” said Robert Spon, head coach of the Rochester RazorSharks. “He is a veteran player that will provide leadership both on and off the court.”
Danville, IL- The Danville Riverhawks made their first splash of the PBL offseason by signing former NJCAA and NAIA All-American Matt Neaville to the team's roster for the upcoming 2015 season.
The Urbana native and former Parkland College standout, comes to the Riverhawks after going undrafted in the 2009 National Basketball Association Development League draft. Following the draft, Neaville went on to play for the Tijuana Cosmos of the Mexico LNBP where he averaged 16.5 points per game and later joined the Harlem Ambassadors traveling entertainment team in 2010.
Most recently, the Urbana High School alum played for the Springfield Xpress and six-time Independent Basketball Association champions, the Kankakee County Soldiers. Now, Neaville comes to the Riverhawks very excited about the team and a chance to play close to home.
"I can't wait to suit up this season and I'm thankful for the opportunity to play for the Riverhawks this year," Neaville stated. "I think it's great to have the opportunity to play close to home and be a local guy. I'm sure fans will like it and come support the team."
Neavile has always been known as a great scorer throughout his career, especially from behind the arc. The 6-foot guard currently holds all major three point records at Union University, a Division I NAIA school in Tennessee and the National Junior College Athletic Association's record for most three's made in a game (17). The organization couldn't be more pleased about signing Neaville and Riverhawks head coach, Kristopher Bell, is poised to get to work with the sharpshooter.
"The coaching staff is really excited about Matt, not only is (he) a great competitor, but he supports our efforts in the community. He's a dangerous shooter and his presence allows us to space the floor," stated the first year coach of the Riverhawks. He's a tough kid, has a lot of experience and we can't wait for training camp to start so we can get to work."
When asked about what he wants to accomplish this season with the team, Neaville stated his biggest objective was to help the team win on and off the court. More importantly, he wants to bring the community together to support the team and bring some excitement to the city of Danville.
Neaville is the first player to sign with the Riverhawks for the upcoming season, but the team is holding multiple combines for players interested in trying out for the team. To register for one of the combines or for more information visit www.danvilleriverhawks.com.
Racine, WI– Michael Tyler, owner of the Racine Storm minor league basketball team, announced on Friday, August 8th at a press conference at the Racine Art Museum the entry of the Storm’s into the Premier Basketball League.
Racine mayor, John Dickert was on hand for the announcement and welcomes the team to the Racine community.
“There have been a lot of great basketball players from Racine,’’ Tyler said. “Several players have played in the NBA like Caron Butler, Jim Chones and other and there have been a slew of Racine players who have played at the Division I level”
The vision of a professional team came to Tyler while sharing a Thanksgiving meal with Racine native, Clint Bryant, who is now one of the team’s coach, Ryan Thompson also serves as coach. “Racine is a hotbed for basketball.’’, said Tyler.
The more Tyler thought about becoming an owner of a professional basketball team the more intrigued he became. Tyler, who is from Waukegan, Ill., and practices law in Louisiana, checked out some possibilities and came to the conclusion that Racine would be an ideal location for a team in the Premier Basketball League.
The Racine Storm will be part a 12-team league that has, or will have, teams in eight states. The closest teams to Racine will be Danville, Ill., Grand Rapids, Mich., and Indianapolis.
“Using a business term, it’s a great market,’’ Tyler said. “I’ve talked to people here in Racine and they believe we’ll get great backing from the city and the county.’’
The mission of the league is give players who graduated from high school or college an opportunity to showcase their skills and perhaps latch on with a professional team.
“It’s not just about getting to the NBA, but playing in the D-League or playing overseas,’’ Tyler said. “The opportunities to play overseas are vast, whether it’s in Europe or Asia or the Middle East or South America. You can make a lot of money playing overseas.’’
Tyler added a local combine for player tryouts was in the works and that a free regional combine for PBL candidates will be held Aug. 23 in Chicago, with additional details forthcoming on the league’s website: www.thepbl.com
The PBL season is expected to begin play in December and conduct games through March. The season will consist of 20 games, 10 away and 10 at home. Tyler also stated that he was hoping Case High School would host their home games in Racine.
“This is my first foray into ownership,’’ Tyler said. “It’s like operating any other business. You have to have a good infrastructure and you’ve got to put time into nurturing it. I’m willing to do that.’’
Rochester, NY— On August 8th, the Rochester RazorSharks announced that former Lawton-Fort Sill Cavalry player Gabe Freeman has been signed to the team’s roster for the upcoming 2015 season.
The small forward played a significant role for the Cavalry squad that was defeated by the RazorSharks in the Premier Basketball League Championship series in 2011. Since that time, Freeman has played for the London Lightning in Canada’s National Basketball League, as well as for several teams in the Philippines. During his tenure with the Lightning, he claimed the NBL’s Most Valuable Player award, the Playoffs M.V.P. award and the NBL Championship during the 2012 season.
“He is one of the most talented minor league players, playing both domestically and overseas,” says Robert Spon, head coach of the Rochester RazorSharks. “A terrific rebounder for his size at 6’6’’, we’re thrilled to have him on our team.”
Freeman averaged 22 points and 19.5 rebounds per game playing for the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the Philippines Basketball Association last season.
DANVILLE, IL- After months of searching for a candidate to take the helm as the Riverhawks first head coach in franchise history, the search is finally over. Kristopher Bell has been named the first ever coach of the Danville Riverhawks and the organization is very excited about what Coach Bell brings to the team, but more importantly the community.
The former high school coach, and current Minority Veterans Program Co-Chairman at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital of Danville, was asked how he first heard the position was available. Bell, like so many stated, social media helped him out. "I first heard about the position through friends and through Facebook, so I decided to express my interest in the position. After speaking with Devin (Team President Devin Johnson) and Floyd (Team VP Floyd Brown), I found that we shared a lot of the same core values of how important this position is and how great this is for our community."
Bell has called Danville home his entire life and expressed his excitement about how much it meant for him to get the job in his hometown. “ I was born and raised right here in Danville, and I feel very blessed to have the position as head coach and furthermore, having the opportunity to present a professional team compiled with not only players from our very own community, but also various players from the surrounding areas. We are presenting a diverse team to a diverse community so I am very excited”. He also touched on how he plans on using his presence in the community being a hometown guy. “Myself and the team will make many visits to our schools and places that we can be effective in making a positive influence. It is very important for me as a head coach to empower and encourage our youth and mentoring as many as we can. We have a chance to use basketball as a vehicle to inspire this generation and generations to come”, a sentiment shared by the organization as a whole.
Besides his deep roots in the Danville community, Bell has over 15 years of coaching experience. Although he has coached for many years, none of that experience has been at the professional level, but that didn’t deter the organization from their selection and feeling comfortable with him leading the team. “We talked to a lot of candidates over the past couple months from all levels high school to pro, but none of them had ties to this community which was very important for us”, stated Team President Devin Glover-Johnson. Glover-Johnson also added, “We also ran into time commitment issues with some candidates as well. We have community programs to go along with what’s expected on the court so, it honestly had to be the right person and I can’t say enough how excited we are to have Kris as our head coach. We feel he has all the tools to succeed on and off the court” He also stated Bell was very impressive during the interview process and his passion for the community really made him stand out over all the other candidates for the position.
Bell also feel he’s more than equipped for the team to succeed on the court, but more importantly he wants them to succeed in the community. “I feel I'm well equipped for the position but its more than coaching a competitive team at a professional level, but more importantly how we can integrate this team into our community to make an impact on our youth. It's very easy to find coaches with big names, titles, and plenty of experience, but its not so easy to find a person who loves the game as much as he loves his own community. Success will be the result of our partnership and support of our community and giving our community a championship team."
Even with little experience coaching at the professional level, Bell touched on how his coaching experiences over the years will translate to the pro game, “I have over 15 years of Coaching experience from middle school up to individually training players to play at the professional level. I also feel my experiences on the summer circuits with the CBA (Continental Basketball League), ABA (American Basketball Association) and opportunities to play professionally overseas, will help me develop young men in our organization and give them all the tools they need to further their careers”. He also pointed out, he has two assistants to be named later that share the same core values of community development and will greatly contribute the team’s success on the floor.
When asked about his first task now that he’s been named head coach, Bell said he's going to shift his focus to raising awareness for the team in the community. "The first task I would like to accomplish is to build relationships with our partners and our community, we have city who loves the game and it’ s my goal to present a professional team who will represent us in a professional and competitive way. We have fantastic owners and we have a goal as a program to build, grow and continue to show excellence in every way possible”.
The Riverhawks are set to begin play in their inaugural season in the Premier Basketball League in January 2015 at the David S. Palmer Arena. For more information about the team and Coach Bell please visit www.DanvilleRiverhawks.com