The second-annual Kansas City Pro-Am Summer League, which features a batch of Kansas University basketball players past and present, opens tonight at Penn Valley Community College's Pohlman Fieldhouse.
"I think it will be a lot better than last year. We've worked out some kinks and gotten more teams," said former KU guard Terry Nooner, president of the league.
"We've got more people in the community involved, more sponsors. We're really excited about our second season."
So is KU coach Bill Self, who again has allowed his Jayhawks to participate in the 12-team league which includes players from KU, Missouri, UMKC, Haskell and small colleges as well as a smattering of pro players.
"If this is all our guys do in the summer, then they haven't had a productive summer. They need to spend time in the gym, weight room and work on their skill set," Self said. "This is a bonus for the rest of the hard work."
Tonight's featured game is a 7:30 p.m. battle between The Hawks (including Nick Bradford, Aaron Miles, Cole Aldrich, Tyrel Reed, Tyshawn Taylor and Mario Little) versus Team Lue (Tyronn Lue, Wayne Simien and Travis Releford). A list of all team rosters and the full league schedule is available at kcproamhoops.com.
"It was a good experience (last summer)," said Reed, a KU sophomore guard from Burlington. "Toward the end of the year it got watered down. Not as many people came. Hopefully this year there will be great competition."
That will be the case, said league vice president Eric Stamps, who said the Jayhawk players provide local interest.
"Having KU guys compete helps the crowds, but more importantly, helps them," Stamps said. "Last year, everybody but Darrell (Arthur), Brandon (Rush) and Sherron (Collins) played in the league on a consistent basis. A lot of the younger players said it helped their confidence.
"We've added more teams this year, including a team from Haskell (Moon Wolf Productions) which we're really excited about," Stamps added. "We've added more teams to make the competition better, got new uniforms for all the teams. There's a big buzz going around the basketball community about the league, which we feel will be bigger and better this summer."
Other KU players and their teams: Brennan Bechard (Double Dogg), Matt Kleinmann (Cavaliers), Billy Thomas (Fade Away), Brady Morningstar, Quintrell Thomas, Tyrone Appleton (Miller Time).
Tonight's festivities are to include appearances by NBA players Chauncey Billups and Ronnie Brewer. Former Colorado standout Billups, in fact, is expected to play in the opening 6 p.m. contest. Penn Valley CC is located at 3201 SW Trafficway in Kansas City, Mo. Admission is free.
¢ Morris twins update: Incoming KU freshmen Marcus and Markieff Morris of Philadelphia are set to arrive on campus next Thursday, small forward Marcus Morris said Thursday.
"I'm real anxious to get there," Marcus said.
KU coach Self, officials at the twins' APEX Academies and the twins themselves have said emphatically they are not worried about the twins being certified to play their freshman seasons at KU.
"We're real close (to qualifying), just waiting on a couple things," Marcus said, noting the two are staying in good physical condition.
"We work out every day at a college here, different gyms," he said.
¢ NBA workouts: KU's Darrell Arthur and Mario Chalmers worked out for the Indiana Pacers on Thursday. Arthur, who was in Charlotte on Wednesday, will be at the camp of the Golden State Warriors today, Phoenix on Saturday and a combined workout with Washington and Philadelphia on Sunday. Arthur said on Thursday he will attend the draft proceedings next Thursday in New York. Chalmers on Thursday told Indiana Pacers writers his expectation was to be tapped "first round and hopefully in the top 20."