By Ken Lay
The Pilot Rocky Top Basketball League got its season underway with its draft Wednesday night at Doc’s All American Grille and Sports Bar.
The league which opens play tonight (June 16) at Catholic High School, begins its eighth year and coaches are excited and eager to tip things off at a new venue.
“I think the crowds will be up because [University of Tennessee basketball] coach [Donnie] Tyndall has brought a new excitement,” Knoxville News-Sentinel coach Zane Duncan said. “I look forward to defending my league title.
“This is a chance for the fans to enjoy basketball in an intimate setting. This is the style that coach Tyndall wants to play and it’s a chance for the fans to see the players in a close-up environment.”
Duncan had the first pick and he selected James “Boo” Jackson, a former NBDL player who played at Eastern Michigan University. Jackson, a 6-9 power forward has played professionally in Europe.
He was also the top pick in 2012.
Other coaches are also excited about the league this season.
“Coach Tyndall has re-energized the [Tennessee] program and that’s good for us,” Campus Lights coach Brent Watts said.
Watts, a former Farragut High School and Maryville College standout, has coached in the league for the past seven summers.
Chad Smith, a former South-Doyle High School coach, begins his eighth year in the league tonight and he’s looking forward to things this season. He’ll coach Rice Buick GMC’s team in 2014.
“This is my break and this is the time that I get my basketball fix,” said Smith, who was recently named assistant principal at Carter Middle School. “To me, this is about managing personalities.
“It’s a chance for me to practice leadership.”
Action opens tonight with a triple header at Catholic. Knoxville News-Sentinel plays De Royal Industries (coached by Pat Walden, who has been in the league since its inception in 2006).
Tip-off for the opener is slated for 6 pm.
Campus Lights tangles with Rice Buick GMC at 7:30 and Clancy’s Tavern (coached by second-year man Scott Barron) plays Choice Spine (coached by Rocky Top veteran Rick Campbell) at 9.
Clancy’s is a new team sponsor and replaced Next Level last week.