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Iowa grad Cartwright playing with Chris Brown in Drew League

BY TAYLOR AXELSON | JUNE 25, 2012 6:30 AM

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Bryce Cartwright isn't wearing No. 24 this summer.

His jersey is no longer black and gold.

He left Carver-Hawkeye Arena for a high-school gym near his home town in Compton, Calif.

He was invited to play in the Drew League, a summer league similar to Iowa's Prime Time in the Los Angeles area.

Cartwright's team is the Money Gang. His teammates and his opponents are bigger, better, and known worldwide.

"DeMar [DeRozan, Toronto Raptor player] and I used to play together when we were young in Compton," Cartwright said. "Paul George [Indiana Pacers] and I played together at Fresno State my first year, and I also know Game, the rapper. They asked me to come play."

The Drew League was founded in 1973 with six teams; by 1985, it had grown to 10 teams. The league now has 20 teams by invitation only because of the popularity and recognition that certain players possess.

"The Drew league provides a safe, fun, and free venue for the community in South Central Los Angeles to view elite-level basketball and entertainment," Dino Smiley, the Drew commissioner, wrote in an email. "For many in the community (especially kids), the Drew League is the only opportunity for them to see and mingle 'up close and personal' with top NBA and college-basketball athletes and entertainers every weekend."

The games are played at King Drew High in Los Angeles. Admission is free, so the gym is packed to capacity. For those who don't get into the stands, there are places on the sidelines. Hundreds of people wait outside every game waiting to get in.

The 2 p.m. games, during which Cartwright plays every week, are the most packed because of the players who run the court at that time. John Wall, Chris Brown, Game, and Metta World Peace have all made appearances. Game brings in different people every week to draw the crowds.

"Playing in a high-school gym is different from Carver, but it's the same old game. Carver would get packed, too," Cartwright said. "The competition is better because I'm playing against NBA players. It's good to play against people of your caliber or better."

Cartwright played for the Black and Gold from 2010-2012, averaging 8.4 points per game over the two seasons. He led the team in assists, dishing out 182 and 154 in the two seasons of his Hawkeye tenure. The Compton native served as an Iowa cocaptain during his senior year.

Cartwright's team in the Drew League, Money Gang, is 3-2 on the season so far. The Gang fell out of the league's No. 6 ranking after suffering the second loss. But there's no doubt whether Cartwright's assists and point-guard skills will benefit his team just as they did at Iowa.

Carver-Hawkeye or King Drew High, Iowa Hawkeyes or Money Gang, Devyn Marble or Chris Brown, Melsahn Basabe or John Wall — Cartwright is the same team-oriented player.

"Bryce is going to do well in the Drew League. He has a lot of upsides to his game. Bryce is very talented," said Jarryd Cole, Cartwright's former teammate. "He's an unselfish player. He loves to make things happen for other people, and that's what great point guards do. I think that'll benefit guys like DeRozan. Bryce has a total package when it comes to his game and skills. I think he's doing a good thing out there in the Drew League."


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