ST. LOUIS - One thing has been settled so far in the 2016 Midwest Professional Basketball Association season: and that is nothing is settled. With the second-place Pontiac 66ers just 1.5 games behind the league-leading Windy City Groove, and just 2.5 games separating third place from seventh, the stretch run is shaping up to be a neck-and-neck affair, as only four teams will make the postseason.
This weekend marks the first time all seven teams will be in action in the same two-day stretch, with critical matchups between teams that will be fighting for their playoff lives over the next three weeks.
The action opens with a double-header Saturday at the Kroc Center in Chicago, as the 8-2 Groove try to rebound against the 5-4 St. Louis RiverSharks from an overtime loss Wednesday to Pontiac. St. Louis is coming off a Wednesday win over the Gateway Steam.
Dion Vance Cooksey (6'0''-PG-87, college: Pikeville) leads Chicago at 22.4 points and 4.7 assists per game, while six other Groove players average scoring in double figures. One of those is Isiah Martin (6'8''-F-89, college: Indiana St.) (12.8), who leads the team in rebounding at 8.1 per contest. Newcomer Ray Miller (6'8''-F/C, college: CS Fullerton) is averaging 11.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in four games.
2015 MPBA Most Valuable Player Justin Bocot (6'4''-G-88, college: S.Illinois) paces St. Louis, again with MVP-type numbers. He averages 25.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game for the RiverSharks. Bruce Massey (6'3''-G-90, college: Middle Tenn.St.) isn't far behind, putting up 22.1 points and pulling down 7.8 rebounds per contest. Aaron Williams (6'6''-G, college: Chicago St.) leads the 'Sharks in rebounding at 7.9 per game.
Saturday's second game features the suddenly dangerous Champaign Swarm (3-7) taking on the athletic Chicago Blues (5-4). Champaign has won two in a row since Daniel Ruffin took over as head coach.
Aaron Weaver (6'6''-G, college: North Park), since returning to the Swarm four games ago, leads Champaign in scoring at 24.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. Michael Rogers has been among the league's top performers since the start of the season, averaging 23.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Two more newcomers have helped to make the Swarm dangerous--Jonathan Mills, averaging 18.5 points and 10.0 rebounds over two games, and 2015 championship contributor Robert Broughton (6'5''-F), who, in three games, averages 12.0 points and 7.3 rebounds.
On Sunday, the streaky Gateway Steam (3-6) travel to Lima to take on the hard-luck Lima Express (3-7). The Steam are in the midst of their second three-game losing streak this year-in between those, they won three in a row. Lima, meanwhile, has lost five straight, but none of those losses have been by more than nine points. Lima dropped a pair of games to first-place Windy City last weekend by a total of five points.
Kyle Meyer (6'6''-F-88, college: Ohio Northern) leads Lima with 22.2 points per game, and Jody Hill (6'2''-G-91, college: Livingstone), in two games since returning to the Express from Iraq, is averaging 22.0. Cordaryl Ballard (6'5''-G-87, college: USC Aiken) is right behind them at 21.8 points per game, and leads the MPBA with 5.2 assists per contest. Guard Johnny Elliott (6'0''-PG, college: NW Ohio) is the leading rebounder at 6.6 per game.
The versatile Connell Crossland (6'7''-F-91, college: TCU) leads the Steam at 17.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, while newcomer Anthony Jones (6'1''-G) has made an immediate contribution, averaging 17.5 points and 2.5 steals per game. Sharpshooting forward Brent Schuck (6'8''-F-90, college: Emporia St.) is third in the MPBA in three-point percentage, hitting on 48.3% of his long-range attempts.
The final game of the weekend sees the 7-4 Pontiac 66ers hosting the Swarm, as Pontiac comes off a big overtime win Wednesday against the Groove. MPBA scoring leader Alfonzo Houston (6'3''-G-92, college: N.C.Central) paces the 66ers at 27.3 points per game, one of seven Sixers scoring in double figures. Newcomers Khion Sankey (6'5''-G, college: Lipscomb) and Alex Marzette (6'5''-G) both average close to 17 points and eight rebounds per game, while MPBA-leading rebounder Marcus Hammonds (6'5''-F/G-87, college: Texas A&M-CC) chips in 13.2 points per game.
Every MPBA game this weekend and all season long can be seen live and free of charge in high definition on the league's broadcast portal, MPBA.tv. For more information on the MPBA, visit www.theMPBA.com, or follow on Facebook or Twitter.
January 9, 2017 ST. LOUIS - The Midwest Professional Basketball Association has decided to move its upcoming season from a traditional winter start to the summer of 2017, in an effort to determine whether playing closer to the autumn overseas signing period will result in more foreign advancements for MPBA players. The MPBA, which began play in January of 2015, has sent 60 players to overseas teams or the NBA D-League. "Doing a summer league has been in the works since our inception in... [read more]
January 9, 2017
ST. LOUIS - The Midwest Professional Basketball Association has decided to move its upcoming season from a traditional winter start to the summer of 2017, in an effort to determine whether playing closer to the autumn overseas signing period will result in more foreign advancements for MPBA players.
The MPBA, which began play in January of 2015, has sent 60 players to overseas teams or the NBA D-League.
"Doing a summer league has been in the works since our inception in 2014," said C. Edward 'Ed' Schumer, commissioner and chief executive officer for the MPBA. "We feel like we've had a lot of early success moving players up, and we're eager to try the summer league model. But as such a young league, we don't have the resources yet to be able to do our regular winter/spring season as well as a summer league."
Approximately 30% of all players accumulating statistics in the MPBA's two seasons of play have signed contracts to play in Europe, South America or the D-League.
"Playing in the summer will have a couple major benefits," said Craig Fata, associate commissioner for the MPBA. "It will be closer to when foreign leagues sign players, so the guys in our league will have the freshest film and be in the best shape. It will also allow us to bring in college players who have just completed their final seasons."
The MPBA expects to play both a winter/spring league and a summer league in 2018, Schumer said. Details about schedules, locations and teams for the summer league will be released in the coming weeks.
The Midwest Professional Basketball Association 2017 player combine, scheduled for November 20 in suburban Chicago, has been canceled. 'We didn't have enough players sign up that we thought would be able to go overseas,' said Ed Schumer , commissioner and chief executive officer of the MPBA. 'We don't want to just take money from kids, knowing they didn't have a chance to move up. It's not fair to them. Our combine process is not designed to just be a revenue stream for us.' The MPBA has... [read more]
The Midwest Professional Basketball Association 2017 player combine, scheduled for November 20 in suburban Chicago, has been canceled. 'We didn't have enough players sign up that we thought would be able to go overseas,' said Ed Schumer , commissioner and chief executive officer of the MPBA. 'We don't want to just take money from kids, knowing they didn't have a chance to move up. It's not fair to them. Our combine process is not designed to just be a revenue stream for us.' The MPBA has sent nearly 60 players overseas since beginning play in January 2015. 'This isn't a rec league, or a league for somebody over 30 who still can play at a high level,' Ed Schumer said. 'We want young aspiring professionals who want to go to the next level.' All players who registered and paid the combine fee will have their money refunded in full, Ed Schumer said. 'We encourage players to still register in our free online database so that our coaches and personnel people can look at their resumes and films. And if, based on their credentials, we feel they have a shot to advance, we'll reach out to them over the next month or so,' Ed Schumer said. Courtesy of: thempba.com
November 1, 2016 ST. LOUIS - A player who led Peoria Manual High School to four straight state championships and the University of Illinois to an Elite 8 appearance has been named the head coach of the Midwest Professional Basketball Association's Champaign Swarm. Sergio McClain (6'4''-F-78, college: Illinois) has agreed to helm the Swarm for the 2017 season, set to begin in January. "I'm looking forward to working with a credible league, the Champaign Swarm organization, and my suppor... [read more]
Sergio McClain (6'4''-F-78, college: Illinois) has agreed to helm the Swarm for the 2017 season, set to begin in January.
"I'm looking forward to working with a credible league, the Champaign Swarm organization, and my supporters in the Champaign community," said McClain. "This is a great opportunity and fit as far as pursuing my career goals. But I'm most excited about teaching the tools and work ethic these athletes will need both on the court and in the community with kids and other service groups to help make them successful."
"Sergio will bring toughness and grit, I have no doubt," said fellow Peoria legend A.J. Guyton , director of basketball personnel and associate commissioner for the MPBA. "He will bring a competitive team to Champaign, and because he's already coached in the minor leagues, the transition should be seamless. I believe he will take full opportunity to be a head coach at this level once again."
McClain led Manual to an unprecedented four straight Illinois state basketball titles from 1994-1997 playing for his venerable father Wayne, earning prestigious Illinois 'Mr. Basketball' honors as a senior in 1997, when he averaged 18.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.
McClain then started 80 games over the next four years under Lon Kruger and Bill Self in Champaign, helping his team to a pair of Big Ten championships, and an Elite Eight appearance as a senior in 2001. Following his career at Illinois, McClain played in the NBA Development League and at the semi-pro level. He then stepped into coaching, directing Parkland College in Champaign for one year in 2008.
Four years later, McClain became an assistant under his father at Champaign Central, and then took over the program on an interim basis after his father's sudden death in 2014.
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