Summertime is almost upon us, which means that summer league basketball is even closer.
The Brunson League, Baltimore's top Pro-Am, is set to have a big season. Opening Day is June 4th. Games will be played on Sunday from 10am-9pm. The league will host new players and teams and most importantly, more spectators. Thanks to the brash and ruthless play from last year's champions, Longwood & Dukeland, led by Devin Colston aka The Dragger, many began to take notice of the league.
The untimely death of Colston shook up the entire Baltimore basketball scene. Colston was the people's champ and face of the Brunson League but for Longwood & Dukeland, he was their go-to-player.
The guys from Longwood will have to lean on another bonafide scorer, and luckily for them they have one. Stanton Kidd will more than likely be that go-to-guy for LND. Kidd missed the Brunson Championship game last summer due to his obligation overseas but he was an important player in LND's undefeated run. Kidd was already one of the best players in the league, but this summer he should have a little bit more motivation. The bulk of LND championship roster will return this summer, vocal leader Trey Rose, Sean Farr, Malcom Tatum, and Kemp McCray. This summer will be a true test for LND as everyone will attempt to dethrone them. Emotionally, they will be tested even more, playing without their leader.
A few teams will give LND a run for their money. One team, in particular, will not only challenge LND for the championship but also generate some excitement this summer. Protect the Family, also known as PTF, will be the fan favorites this summer. NBA Star, Will Barton, returns home to help create a bigger buzz for the Brunson and bring some positive vibes back to the city of Baltimore.
The PTF squad is loaded with size. Along with Will, who stands at 6'7, will be Roscoe Smith (6'7) and CJ Fair (6'8), giving PTF a major advantage in the paint and on the perimeter. All three players are athletic enough to create their own shots and big enough to dominate smaller defenders. Will's younger brother, Antonio Barton, will be the guard orchestrating all this length. With Will & T playing alongside each other again, this summer should feel like Lake Clifton circa 2009.
Team Lyfe will be another tough challenger. One could argue that they have the deepest roster in the Brunson. This team is mostly made up of last year's Team Eastside squad that lost to LND in the semifinals last summer, led by Nardie Bogues. Bogues brings with him his Baltimore Hawks teammates, Jaquan Jones and DiShawn Bradshaw. These three create a very tough backcourt to guard. Bradshaw, the biggest of the three, is also the best shooter in the Brunson. Last year, Bradshaw went 28/30 to win the Brunson League three-point contest. Bogues and Jones are quick guards that can blow by anyone and finish at the rim.
As stated before, Team Lyfe is deep. Shakir Brown is a solid scorer on the wing, former Edmondson standout Darius Walker and overseas veteran Kevin Palmer adds to the guard play. Braxton Dupree will be the big body in the paint. If you don't have enough defenders, good luck trying to guard this team.
Sam's Ballers will be new to the Brunson this summer. The team is filled with some of the best players in the DC Metro area. Most notably, Jamahl Brown aka J-Dub is one of the best scorers in the area. J-Dubb has made a name for himself in the Goodman League, Watts League, and P.I.T.S League down in the DC. He will be joined by other DC Summer League notables, 6'11 Brian Bridgeforth, scoring machine Mo Creek, and the one-n-only Boo Jackson, aka Super Boo. This team represents DC basketball, which should put a target on their backs and create some interesting rivalries and games.
The DMV Warriors of the ABA will bring their team to the Brunson this summer. The Warriors finished with the best overall record in the ABA this past season. They will be led by their Big Three of Andrew "Spongebob" Washington, Dylon Cormier, and Terry Hosley aka New Jack City. Cormier was the leading scorer last summer, averaging 37.6 points a game. Spongebob is a staple in DMV streetball action, named to the Goodman 20 list and winner of the 1-on-1 Fightball league. Hosley is another dynamic scorer with some of the best handles out there and will be one of the most entertaining players this summer. The three of them will make the Warriors one of the best scoring teams in the field. Brian Smith also gives them another guard that can put up buckets.
Things to Watch:
Team Muhammad has two mystery players on their roster by the name of Isiah Muhammad and Jihad Muhammad. We will have to wait to find out exactly who those players are but what we do know about Team Muhammad is they might have the best backcourt in the league with Omar Strong and Josh Selby.
Brandon Young and Nick Faust will make their Brunson League debut this summer. Young will run with the Smokin' Aces and Faust will be with the Kruegers.
Brunson League All-Stars take on the P.I.T.S League All-Stars June 18th at the Verizon Center. Last year, the P.I.T.S League was victorious, edging out the Brunson All-Stars 92-89.