Thanks for checking out The-BALL. I’d like to give you a little background to help explain why I thought creating this new basketball league would be a good idea.
One of my all-time favorite college basketball players was Stanford’s Arthur Lee. A natural leader who always played with poise and passion, not to mention a flair for the dramatic. I’ll never forget when he led the Cardinal all the way to the Final Four in 1998 as a junior, closing the deal with his legendary “Miracle Minute” against Rhode Island in the Elite Eight. In one of the maddest finishes in March Madness history, Lee willed Stanford to a 14-6 run over the final 59 seconds and a 79-77 win. (It was actually a miraculous TWO minutes as Lee poured in 13 points over the final 2:05). Lee’s stat line for that “Final Four or go home” game: 26 points, 7 assists, and 0 turnovers. Miraculous Lee
The following Saturday, my buddy Lindy and I were in San Antonio for Stanford’s first Final Four appearance since 1942. We watched a heart-crushing overtime loss to eventual champion Kentucky from the nosebleeds at the Alamo Dome. Meanwhile, Lee scored 26 more points and outplayed Wayne Turner (Kentucky’s All-SEC point guard) from the opening tip. The following season, on Stanford’s Senior Night, Lindy and I were at Maples Pavilion to see Lee light up Arizona’s Jason Terry for 29 points and 8 assists while also hounding the Cats’ superstar into an abysmal 7 for 29 shooting night. More importantly, Arthur had led the Cardinal to a 98-83 trouncing of Arizona, helping clinch Stanford’s first-ever PAC-10 Championship.
But that would be the last time Stanford fans ever got to witness Arthur Lee’s game.
While Terry turned out to be an NBA star, Lee went undrafted. Over the years, Arthur has played for 14 European clubs in 10 different countries (most recently, Poland). Starkly contrasting outcomes for such comparable players.
This made me curious. How many Arthur Lees are out there? Former college stars and fan favorites who never got a chance to play in the NBA.
The numbers are staggering. Every year, only 15 to 20 college seniors get drafted. At the D1 level alone, that leaves over 1,000 seniors out of every class that go unsigned. Including around 200 seniors named All-Conference in their respective leagues each season. Add this up over several senior classes, and you have literally thousands of outstanding American basketball players who are not playing in the NBA, most of whom will never be seen by their most loyal fans again. Consider this Who’s Who list of former college stars who aren’t playing in the NBA today: Matt Howard, Joey Rodriguez, Austin Freeman, Scottie Reynolds, Andy Rautins, Jon Scheyer, Jacob Pullen, Omar Samhan, Chris Lofton, Dee Brown, Adam Morrison, Julius Hodge, Alando Tucker, Casey Jacobsen, Juan Dixon, etc. Global sensation Jeremy Lin came within a hair of being left out of the NBA as well.
The-BALL is a golden opportunity for the best players outside the NBA to advance their pro basketball careers, post-college. They’ll get to play close to where they went to school, and their fans will have a chance to continue seeing them play. The key is that The-BALL is a summer league, so it doesn’t conflict with opportunities to play in the D-League or overseas. My bet is you can think of a few alumni from your favorite college team that would be fun to see playing locally again.
We hope you’ll come back to this website frequently to stay up to date on league developments as we try to deliver a basketball league that you’ll love.