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San Francisco Summer League

August 20, 2003 Columns No Comments

Hot Town: Hoops in the City

by Nicholas Lozito

It takes a lot to get a hibernating bear out of its cave. Especially if that cave isn’t really a cave, but rather a house, and that house is equipped with Internet and cable television. Oh, and it’s not really a bear, but a lazy college student who hasn’t missed an episode of “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” since early March.

But a man can only go so long without his hoops, and the Basketball God was calling from across the San Francisco Bay on a hot August afternoon. So I let out a 5:30 p.m. yawn, sought out clean clothes and made my pilgrimage to Kezar Pavilion, sight of the San Francisco ProCity/Pro-Am Summer Basketball League playoffs.

The eight-team summer league, established in 1979, features many of Northern California’s top collegiate stars, some highly-touted prep prospects and plenty of professional players, including the NBA’s Jason Richardson, Gilbert Arenas and Adonal Foyle.

“(This summer league) tells me what the next level is going to be all about,” says high school senior-to-be Tim Pierce, who has narrowed his college choices down to “Arizona State, Oregon or Illinois… Oh, and UNC-Charlotte.” The 6-foot-7 shooting guard will make his college decision in late September-early October, after making all of his visits. “When I go back to high school, it’s going to be like playing against little kids. So that’s going to help me kill them even more.”

And that’s the beauty of summer league ball. It lets lesser known high school prodigies battle against NBA stars. It lets aging veterans like Richard Morton, a late-80’s graduate from Cal State Fullerton, claim league MVP honors. And, most importantly, it lets a studly reporter like myself come face-to-face with his boyhood hero, University of California graduate Raymond “Circus” King.

Unfortunately, I talk at a ridiculously fast pace when I’m nervous. So, for the most part, King stared back at me with a blank look on his face, and I captured every awkward silence on my handy tape recorder. Here’s an actual excerpt from my conversation with King, who now plays in professional ball in Switzerland:

Reporter: So . . . (Nervous twitch of neck). . . wahdodeycallacircusinSwissaland?

(Awkward Silence and confused looks from both sides)

King: Oh, Yeah (as if answering a yes or no question)… (More confused looks)… Oh, you know, the circus is the greatest show on earth.

Yes it is, Raymond. Yes it is. Who am I to argue with the greatest point guard ever?

Here is a look at some of the high school and college players who competed in the summer league’s playoffs:

High Schoolers:

Tim Pierce, Bay Pride (summer league team): This senior-to-be displayed that he could not only compete with Division I talent, but excel. Pierce scored 24 points in a semifinal win over Bay City. The 6-foot-7 guard will transfer to Hercules High for his senior season in high school. Pierce displayed excellent 3-point range on his smooth outside jumper, while exploding to the rim on several occasions for follow-up and fast break dunks. He seemed timid dribbling the ball with his left hand on the fast break and fumbled the ball in the lane several times, often pump faking to avoid contact. Added bulk would greatly help his game on both sides of the floor.

Harry Brown, Bay City: Brown just finished up his senior season at Hercules High, and, according to Pierce, will head to SF City College next year. He has been recruited by the likes of San Jose State, Fresno State and Utah, among others. At 6-foot-6, Brown possesses the bulk and strength to bang in the post at the Div. I level. However, he doesn’t have many low-post moves and picks up most of his points via loose balls in the paint. Brown shied away from the ball in the post, most of the time receiving the ball near the 3-point line and attempting to take his opponent off the dribble.


Paul Marigney, Bay City: After sitting out last season, Marigney will return to Saint Mary’s (CA) College as a junior. As a sophomore (2001-02 season), the 6-foot-3 shooting guard led the Gaels in scoring as the sixth man, averaging 11.3 points. He showed a streaky outside shot and superb athleticism around the basket, finishing many interior shots over taller players. Marigney finished his team’s quarterfinal victory with over 30 points, and led the summer league in total scoring with 179 points (25.6 per game) during the seven-game regular season.

Eto Onyenegecha, Bay Raiders: Still a developing player, the 6-foot-6 forward heading to Cal State Northridge proved to be the most explosive player on the court — a court that included dunkmaster Jameel Pugh — throwing down several vicious dunks, including a fast-break pass off the backboard. The City College of San Francisco transfer, who has two years of college eligibility left, showed mediocre dribbling and shooting skills, but should be an excellent rebounder with his long wingspan.

Jameel Pugh, Bay Raiders: If you thought the man they call “Superman” was all about dunking, Pugh is out to prove you wrong. The 6-foot-4 guard showed an excellent array of low-post moves, while knocking down several mid-range jumpers. Coming off a knee injury, Pugh, a junior transfer from Massachusetts to Sacramento State, showed no signs of wear-and-tear as he pushed the pace every chance he got. With an overload of guards at Sac State, he will most likely be asked to play plenty of small forward next season.

Dommanic Ingerson, Bay Raiders: A Bay Area native, Ingerson is transferring to the University of San Francisco after one season at Michigan. The 6-foot-4 guard will be eligible to play for the Dons after the Fall 2003 semester. Ingerson displayed a calm-and-collective style, often attempting to bring sanity to a run-and-gun affair.

Martin Smith, Bay City: A walk-on at California, Smith will push for playing time next season behind incoming freshman Ayinde Ubaka and returnees Richard Midgley and A.J. Diggs. The 6-foot point guard displayed great ball control and an ability to penetrate the lane, scoring on several acrobatic maneuvers around the basket. However, he often got too caught up in taking his defender off the dribble, which resulted in him neglecting open teammates and shying away from open jump shots.

Chris Green, Bay City: A sophomore at San Jose Community College, this 6-foot-6 forward displayed excellent leaping ability, constantly hounding the offensive boards for tip-ins. Green was rarely involved in the half-court set and will have to develop an outside game to compete at the Div. I level.


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