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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Competition gets steeper at pro league

    Arizona guard Nic Wise, backgroud left, and former Wildcat Hassan Adams talk while UA forward Jordan Hill preps for a free throw in a Tucson Summer Pro League game at the Northwest Center. Adams, who has a full year of NBA experience, is one of many former Arizona players to return to Tucson after theyve gone pro.
    Arizona guard Nic Wise, backgroud left, and former Wildcat Hassan Adams talk while UA forward Jordan Hill preps for a free throw in a Tucson Summer Pro League game at the Northwest Center. Adams, who has a full year of NBA experience, is one of many former Arizona players to return to Tucson after they’ve gone pro.

    Nic Wise drove hard down the court, checked left, then checked right. The lane was open right down the middle.

    The UA guard sprung up for a layup and former Wildcat Hassan Adams jumped from nowhere to swat the ball away from the hoop, igniting a loud response from the crowd of about 120.

    Wise laughed. Adams laughed. It was like pickup games back in McKale Center again.

    But this is much more than pickup basketball. This was the opening day of the Tucson Summer Pro League, now in it’s fifth year of existence. It was started by former Wildcat Cory Williams in order to get organized games together for those seeking a bigger challenge.

    On Sunday in the Northwest Center – a new location this summer – the bigger challenge was Adams.

    “”It’s always great to play against someone that’s an NBA-caliber player and he’s a friend as well,”” Wise said of Adams, who played for the UA from 2002-06 and carries one full season of NBA experience. “”When you have a good player like Hassan, he helps with your game during the game. He was talking to me a lot during the game. He was trying to help me out.

    “”It’s fun when you’ve got guys like that that are willing to play hard against you and help you out at the same time,”” Wise added.

    It’s an advantage that Wise almost walked away from. The guard announced he’d be returning to the Wildcats program on May 30 after spending weeks contemplating a transfer. On Sunday Wise suited up in a Moore Law Firm Jersey and scored 15 points on 7-for-14 shooting to go with nine assists and two steals. His roommate and teammate – UA forward Jordan Hill, who has put on 10 pounds over the past few weeks and now weighs 235 – wore the same jersey and scored 28 points on 10-for-16 shooting to go with five boards and four blocks.

    But Adams, wearing a Texas Road House jersey, couldn’t be contained. He dropped 31 easy points in a 15-for-25 effort and dished out eight assists to help his team win 85-75.

    “”It’s good to come back and see everyone,”” Adams said. “”It’s good cardio to get in and stay in shape. I just kind of wanted to get a good sweat in.””

    Adams used every bit of the clock in his workout, hitting a 3 at the buzzer to give his team the 10-point edge.

    The addition of pro players is something that’s becoming more customary in the TSPL and the Phoenix Summer Pro League, which was started last year. Many of the pros are former Wildcats, but the Suns’ Amare Stoudemire is on a roster in the PSPL and it’s been rumored that Shaquille O’Neal will make an appearance. Former UA center Kirk Walters is also on a PSPL roster.

    The quick expansion of the summer league is only beginning. There are plans about expanding to Seattle, New York, Atlanta, and Florida. To do that, Williams will need some help.

    Enter Rod Laws, Williams’ childhood buddy from Batavia, Ill., a southwestern suburb of Chicago. Laws, who is serving as the assistant director, has been in Tucson for three months helping with the program and said Williams was always a go-getter growing up. Laws is finally realizing what his best friend has been striving for this whole time.

    “”Anytime you have great players whose names are recognized in the community, it’s only going to help the other players,”” Laws said. “”Someone of Jordan Hill’s caliber, for example, is going to make an average player step up their game because now they have a barometer to compare themselves to.””

    Williams was in Phoenix this past weekend looking over the PSPL while his father, Charles Williams, looked over the Tucson program. Charles and his wife moved to Tucson from Batavia when Cory started the summer program. He and Cory will alternate weekends working in Phoenix and Tucson.

    There’s a certain twinkle in the elder Williams’ eyes when he talks about his son and the operation that he’s set up over the last half-decade. The white whiskers on his face seemed to pop as he chuckled lightly.

    “”He set his mind to it and made it a reality,”” Charles said. “”I was with him 100 percent. I still am.””

    For Laws, helping his childhood friend while watching athletes like Adams, Wise and Hill play the game he hasn’t played in about four years has gotten the juices flowing again.

    “”This right here is like food and water for me,”” he said. “”This is what I live for.””

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