DI-led team wins Chicago Summer League.
by Quinn Peterson / @QwinFNP
For as many top-tier basketball products who come from Chi, little is heard about the city’s summer basketball pro-am scene. That certainly doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, however.
Out on the South Side at South Suburban Junior College, is the Time-2-Shine pro-am, which this year featured Will Bynum, Bobby Simmons and Antoine Walker, among others.
On the other side of town at Phoenix Military Academy is the West Haven Safe Summer League.
Last night, as the league came to a close, The Bulldogs, led by a starting lineup full of former DI players—Jerome Randle (Cal), Stefhon Hannah (Missouri), Royce Parran (Chicago St.), Osiris Eldridge (Illinois St.) and Mac Koshwal (DePaul)—took out Make It Rain, who was steered by David Bailey (Loyola) and Boo Davis (UW-Milwaukee).
Despite a summer full of down-to-the-wire games, bigger names and younger legs prevailed in the end, as The Bulldogs easily handled Make It Rain, coasting to a 74-58 win.
The Bulldogs didn’t waste any time, jumping out to a 15-2 lead behind a series of threes from Hannah and some ridiculous dunks by Eldridge that kept fans standing for the rest of the game. Bailey and Co. tried to fight back, but never really had a shot.
“There was only two summer league pro-ams [in Chicago], South Suburban and this one, and everybody was saying this was one of the best,” said Stefhon Hannah. “I played in this one, like, two years in a row. It wasn’t nothing else to do this summer, you know, [especially] with the NBA lockout, and we won, so this was definitely worth it.”
Hannah’s team knocked off The Village, a Tony Bennet- and Jeremy Pargo-led squad, to get to the championship, while Make It Rain went a team led by former Indiana standout Jamarcus Ellis.
In attendance were a handful of big names such as Bobby Simmons, Will Bynum, and former Chicago Bulls Bill Wennington, Bob Love, Sidney Green, and even Benny the Bull.
The league may not have made national news like the Goodman or Drew Leagues yet, but around Chicago, especially on the West Side, the fans show love like they’re watching Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. After all, these cats are local heroes and legends.
“We combine basketball with the hip-hop and it really keeps the people at piece,” said Lefty, the league’s commissioner. “It’s like entertainment for the people. We’re straight man-to-man, no zones. The West Side has a great tradition of basketball and a lot of those guys come out and participate in the league along with us, we’re from the South Side—our organization is. Coming to the West Side and collaborating with them brought forth some real nice basketball, some real good competition. Just tonight, you got to see David Bailey vs Jerome Randle.”
And no, this is nothing new.
“The West Haven League was originally in the Ickeys for over 10 years,” said DJ Martice, who MCs and DJs during the games. “Then they tore our projects down, so we had to move it to the West Side to Crane High School.”
After setting up shop at Will Bynum and Tony Allen’s alma mater, the league moved to Malcolm X College last year before moving to its current location. Beyond providing a place for the best ballers in the city to go at it, the league, most importantly, is a place for the people of the community to come and chill, without the fear of violence.
Chicago, of course, is home to some of the most senseless killings in America, where “41 souls [were] murdered in 50 hours.” The West Haven Safe Summer League works to combat such unfortunate insanity.
“That’s what we preach the most at Safe Summer 2011 [is non-violence], ’cause you know, Chicago, we got like six shorties getting shot a day,” said DJ Martice. “So for us to promote Safe Summer that’s what we try to do: Get ‘em off the street; get ‘em in the gym and play ball.”