For college basketball players at smaller schools, staying in game shape over the summer can be a challenge. One Green Country coach is doing his part to help those guys out.
Memorial head coach Bobby Allison has started “League 918,” a summer basketball league made up of college basketball players from Tulsa and the surrounding area.
“We were sitting here during the summer having open gym,” Allison said. “Coach Joe looks at me and says, ‘I think people would pay money to watch this game.’”
And League 918 was born.
Made up of mainly Division II, junior college and NAIA players, the teams play a couple times a week through the summer.
“The kids are really competitive,” Allison said. “It’s not like an all-star game. It’s real basketball. They’re running back on defense, they’re sharing the ball, they’re making the right play.”
For the players, the opportunity to stay in shape and see game-speed action is invaluable.
“A lot of kids don’t get to stay in the flow of playing, especially in a college-speed environment,” said former Memorial point guard and current Rogers State Hillcat Shemar Walker. “That’s what this league is.”
It’s also an opportunity for at least one former Charger star.
Kobe Rose was a state champion at Memorial and headed to Connors State out of high school. But that wasn’t a good fit, and he found himself out of the game.
“Seeing all my homies out there doing their thing, I was sitting back just looking,” Rose said. “I just wanted to get back out there ASAP.”
He had to wait. Eventually, based on some help from Allison, he got a spot at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. After a redshirt season last year, he’ll be on the roster this season, and League 918 is helping him get back in playing shape.
“I hadn’t played basketball in three years, so it really feels good being back on my home court,” Rose said. “It just brings a big smile to my face. It feels great. Being back to what I’m supposed to be doing, that just a great feeling.”