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Luck of the draw

Area hoopsters to undergo league draft

Christine Metz

— It might not come with press conferences or million dollar contracts, but Parks and Reaction has decided to draft basketball players for this year’s adult A league.

Actually, it will be more of a lottery than draft, but for the first time the city’s winter basketball A League players will sign up as individuals not teams.

With declining team enrollment in the last five years, the higher skilled of the city’s two winter basketball adult leagues is hoping to increase its numbers through a draft system, said Christina Freeman, Parks and Rec’s Sports Program Coordinator.

After the Dec. 11 registration deadline, basketball players who have signed up will be put into a random drawing, which is divided by positions of guard, forward and center. On Dec. 18, team captains will draw names from a hat to determine basketball teams.

Freeman said the lottery system is a way for new basketball players to enter a league that has dropped from eight to five teams in the last five years.

Although the winter adult basketball leagues have never been run on a draft system, Freeman said the fall leagues use to be formed that way.

“There are an awful lot of players that don’t know each other. (The draft) will bring better competition and more teams,” Jim Swiggart, a long time member of the Bottleneck team, said. “We have had several leagues run as a draft that were very successful.”

Although Swiggart is in full support of the changes, he has heard second-hand concerns that not all the players in the A League are happy. Complaints have been made that the draft system would break up teams that have been together for over five years.

“Everybody likes to play with their friends,” Swiggart said. “But, sometimes switching it up is a good thing. The vast majority of the players are not in it to win, typically; they play ball to stay in shape.”

Freeman said the lottery system was designed so old teams could not stay together and new players could join easily.

“It puts everyone on equal footing. (The new players) have just as equal of a chance to play vs. a draft picking players (captains) know,” Freeman said.

In the last few years, Freeman said at least 10 basketball players have shown up every year at the preseason meeting without teams and more call asking if their names could be put on a list for teams.

She said with the draft system, teams should have about eight to nine members.

Through the B League, teams can still play together. Freeman said Parks and Rec accepts 13 teams into the winter league, the spots are available first to last year’s teams and then are filled on a first-come first-serve basis.

Although Freeman said B League usually accepts one to two new teams each year, she does not expect any of those spots to be filled by A League players who are wanting to keep their teams intact.

“(B League) is not as competitive. They wouldn’t find it as conducive as an atmosphere for their skills,” Freeman said.

Another minor change to this year’s basketball league is an earlier starting date of early January.

Because the league is played Sunday nights, Freeman said Parks and Rec decided to move up the date to allow for breaks for Super Bowl Sunday and the Final Four basketball tournament in March.


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