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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Wildcats young, older pick it up at Pro League”

    It was a far cry from “”Sweet Georgia Brown,”” but the hip-hop the DJ played during the games Saturday suited Eugene Edgerson just fine.

    That day, the current Harlem Globetrotter and former Arizona Wildcat played in a 40-minute game in the Tucson Summer Pro League. Then he traded in his No. 23 El Charro CafǸ jersey and slid a No. 23 M3 Moore Law firm jersey over his huge afro in preparation for another game literally two minutes later.

    The TSPL, now in its fourth summer, features competition unlike any the Globetrotters see.

    “”You know basically day in and day out what you’re going to do out there on the basketball court as a Harlem Globetrotter,”” Edgerson said. “”Out here, it’s a different ball game, because you’re playing with guys that you’re not used to playing with. And the rules out here are different; we’re playing professional rules.””

    And don’t forget about the steep competition.

    The league features elite high school and college players, and sometimes NBA veterans.

    Edgerson, or “”Killer”” as he is called as a Globetrotter, is just one of several former Wildcats who participate in the league.

    Kelvin Eafon and Corey Williams – who hosted Edgerson during his recruiting visit to Arizona from New Orleans – play larger roles.

    Eafon played for the Arizona baksketball team from 1994-1995 and was an All-Pacific 10 Conference running back on the football team from 1996-1998. These days, he is the league’s director of player personnel and scouting. He also seeks out and invites top players from the NBA and Europe to play each summer in the TSPL, and this year, play has been extended to Phoenix from merely St. Gregory College Preparatory School in Tucson.

    Williams founded the TSPL in 2004 because he was “”tired of looking for a good game to play.”” A Wildcat under current UA head coach Lute Olson from 1992-1996, Williams plays and coaches in the league, as does his former teammate Eafon.

    “”It’s great because you’re in college for such a short time,”” said Williams inside of the St. Gregory gym, where the league holds competition. “”Four years goes by really fast, but you have friendships that last the rest of your life. To still be able to talk to Eugene and Kelvin and all the other former Wildcats who come here is great. Basketball is always one thing we have in common.””

    When Williams – who has enjoyed a successful career overseas – isn’t playing or coaching, he still keeps busy with the league.

    “”I work on this four or five hours a day, little by little, all year long,”” he said. “”When I’m overseas, I’m always thinking about doing something about this, making sure it runs smooth. … This is something I like doing, so I spend a lot of time doing it.””

    Today’s Wildcats run the court

    The TSPL, which features 10 games spread out from Friday to Sunday each weekend, boasted the play of current men’s basketball players Jordan Hill and Fendi Onobun, NBA draft hopeful Marcus Williams and even the Bofia twins from the Arizona women’s team last summer.

    With every player being invited to join the league, or offered a tryout, the competition is different from pickup games in McKale Center, to say the least.

    “”As a player, you need to play all the time, you need to play against different people and you need to play against great competition,”” Corey Williams said. “”It keeps you sharp. More than half of our fans are U of A fans, and they get a thrill out of seeing Wildcats play here.””

    No Wildcats have played in the league this summer, but with it running until July 21, some of the current players are sure to see the court, UA assistant coach Josh Pastner said.

    “”The current Wildcats will be involved in the league in some way, shape or form,”” he said. “”Either they’ll be playing in it, or they’ll be around the event watching. It will depend on their availability with their schedule of academics (in summer school).””

    Not even the fear of injuries should stop the current players from participating, Edgerson said.

    “”Those guys need to be here playing against guys like myself, Corey and the other former U of A guys that will be around here,”” Edgerson said. “”You can get injured playing pickup ball at McKale Center. Every time you step on any basketball court, it’s an occupational hazard. So why not come here and play against guys who you haven’t seen play before?””

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