Prime Time League set to fill summer's basketball void

BY MATT CABEL | JUNE 14, 2013 5:00 AM

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While the seats of Carver-Hawkeye Arena remain empty and the lights dim, Iowa City’s newfound hunger for its basketball team will be fed when the annual Prime Time Basketball League kicks off play on June 20 in the North Liberty Community Center.

On June 16, league founder and Commissioner Randy Larson, along with five other coaches from the Iowa City area, will sit down to draft players for their summer-league teams. Team rosters will feature players from Iowa basketball’s past and present, as well as high-school and college players from around the state.

“The progression of our big guys [in the post], and the competition for playing time up front [for the guards] is going to be a real story line this year,” Larson said.

The availability of guard Devyn Marble and forward Aaron White may also make headlines. The two will travel to Colorado Springs, Colo., for the 2013 USA Basketball Men’s World University Games team training camp on June 24.

“I’m honored and excited to have this opportunity,” Marble said in a June 3 release. “To be able to play alongside some of the country’s best young players will be fun and challenging. Having Aaron [White] there, too, will be a great experience.”

Forward Melsahn Basabe will also not participate in the summer league — the senior will spend the summer in his hometown of Glen Cove, N.Y.

Larson said both White and Marble will likely be chosen in the later rounds of the draft, primarily because their availability for the summer league remains unknown.

“I think each coach will have to think for himself, ‘Is this one of the best 12 or 15 undergrad players in America?’ ” Larson said. “If you’re the coach drafting in Prime Time, and you think they won’t make it and pick them, and then they do make it, they’re gone. The team would really struggle.”

Fans will know after Sunday night’s draft how much of a chance the league’s coaches will take on White and Marble.

“Every coach will have to make up his own mind,” Larson said. “Especially because Aaron White and Devyn Marble have been good enough at times to be picked [for the USA team].”

The Prime Time League offers Iowa basketball fans a break from the summer drought of Hawkeye sports and gives the players a chance to gain chemistry with their teammates and take their game beyond the summer workouts.

The league will also be a chance for some younger Hawkeyes to show off their talents on the hardwood — and for some, this has been a long time coming.

“Is [Peter Jok] as great of a shooter as they say?” Larson said. “Is he the player who was picked as the No. 1 best player in ninth grade, or is he the player who has been injured and wasn’t quite at that level?”

Larson also showed interest in seeing redshirt sophomore Jarrod Uthoff — who will play in his first actual basketball game in two years come November — as well as true freshman Jok hit the community-center gym. 

“I think the Prime Time League is a great opportunity to get out and play games over the summer,” Uthoff said Wednesday. “It’s a good chance for the guys to play an excellent game together and get even more familiar with each other before the season starts.”

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