ESPN college basketball commentator Corey Williams, who played for Lute Olson at Arizona, serves as the PA announcer among his myriad of tasks organizing the Tucson Summer Pro League for Kids at The Gregory School.
He also reguarly fills a clear container with Gatorade for the kids and coaches to drink.
“I got the Windex ready,” Williams said with a smile, looking at the blue Gatorade.
The mood is always light with Williams and those who have helped him during the weekends of this summer.
After each game this weekend, Williams interviewed a player of the game for each team. One player holds on to a championship belt and has a gold chain necklace and the other player wears sunglasses (because they are shining stars).
— Summer Pro League (@summerpro) July 9, 2022
The experience is nothing close to an intense, cut-throat AAU summer event with youths the same age (11 to 13) who are consumed with exposure.
Don’t take that wrong — the TSPL for Kids is competitive and people will read about some of the players when they’re standouts in high school in the next few years.
TSPL for Kids alums Will Menaugh (of Catalina Foothills) and Jake Cioe (Salpointe) are now members of a Division I basketball program as walk-ons — Menaugh with Arizona and Cioe with San Francisco.
Remember the names Trae Gaines, Nathaniel Kerschner, Jaiden Starks, David Mujambere, Landon Melnick, Jericho Wendt and Razin Gant, to name a few.
Coming off two years without the TSPL for Kids because of COVID-19 protocols, Williams has visions of the event returning to a growing stature. He mentioned he plans to expand to 12 teams next year — six comprised of 10 and 11 year olds and the other six of youths 12 and 13.
Presently, 10 teams of 11 to 13 year olds compete.
Attending the TSPL for Kids games this weekend was highlighted by an overtime game between teams sponsored by Casino del Sol and Pascua-Yaqui Tribe on Sunday.
Pascua Yaqui took the win over Casino Del Sol in overtime, 67-65! Augustine and Joseph were the players of the game. pic.twitter.com/PDoSdtDy3R
— Summer Pro League (@summerpro) July 10, 2022
Former Arizona basketball and football captain Kelvin Eafon coached the Casino del Sol team, and his competitive fire directing his team — similar to his days motivating QBs Keith Smith and Ortege Jenkins and Co. to drive the ball downfield — will have a lasting impression on the youngsters.
Wendt drove the baseline for the winning shot with 4.1 seconds left. His Pascua-Yaqui teammates mobbed him when the last seconds ticked off with Casino del Sol unable to get a shot off.
No convention center full of basketball courts with numerous club teams playing could’ve topped that.
The semifinals, All-Star Game and championship game are scheduled for Saturday at The Gregory School beginning at 11 a.m.
Williams will have the “Windex” and good times ready.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.