According to Philahoops.com, Allan Ray and Curtis Sumpter will play in an exhibition game for The-BALL, a start-up pro-basketball minor league that hopes to make inroads with Philadelphia college basketball fans. The game will be held on Sunday, August 5th at St. Joseph's Hagan Arena and their team will be coached by former Villanovan and current Toronto Raptors assistant, Alvin Williams. Also joining their team will be Pat Carroll and Ahmad Nivins from St. Joes, Temple alumni Dustin Salisbery and Mark Tyndale, and recently-graduated Penn point guard, Zack Rosen.
They will play in that game against a team of Washington D.C.-area college basketball alumni. It will be a re-match of a game they will play in the nation's capital a day earlier. Both games will reportedly be televised by Comcast SportsNet and will tip off at 4 p.m. (Aug. 4th) and 8 p.m. (Aug. 5th), respectively.
VUhoops has not confirmed that any of these players or coaches have signed on to play in this league after the exhibition games (we have reached out for comment, however). According to the Philahoops report, however, the league will not launch until July 2013, so it seems these games aren't much of a predictor of what The-BALL will actually be.
Allan Ray has been playing in Europe since 2007-08 in various leagues and for a few different teams and has reportedly been well-compensated for his efforts over there. Sumpter has also played abroad, but came home to the United States last summer and caught on with the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA D-League after a stint with USA Basketball, hoping to work his way into the NBA the hard way.
Both Ray and Sumpter would appear to have more high-profile options, but since this league will operate in July, during their off-season, it is possible that they could do both -- playing in The-BALL instead of traditional non-pro summer leagues, like the Delco Pro-Am.
Alvin Williams is unlikely to leave his position with the Raptors as their Director of Player Development, which is the same job former 'Nova assistant Brett Gunning held in Houston before being promoted. With Kyle Lowry heading north to Toronto next season, it is unlikely that Williams would leave his position with the Raptors either. The Raptors might allow him to do a short coaching stint in the offseason, however.
It seems that The-Ball has enlisted a few popular local names to play in a one-off "home-and-home" series, but these rosters may be very different from the ones that this league actually launches with a year from now. It is unclear if these players will be available next July, or who else will be able to return.
Will the upstart league be able to gain enough popularity to pay the bills? Apparently, games will be played in rented college gyms, with Hagan Arena being the likely home for the Philadelphia entry. That would suggest that the league will only offer modest salaries, since revenue may be difficult to come by with smaller crowds on hand.
The founders hope that their league will be a jumping-off point for players to reach the NBA by offering a higher-level of game-play in July; hopefully offering players greater exposure. It is difficult enough for players from the D-League to get called up to the big time, however, so while this league may offer an interesting platform, its success at getting players into the NBA will be questioned from the beginning.
Targeting players in their off-season could allow them to sign some decent talent, as many professionals play for free in high school or college gyms, alongside current college players, in order to keep their skills sharp. If The-BALL can offer these pros better competition and a pay check, it could be devastating to Pro-Am circuit talent.