KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. -- John Salmons led Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School to a PIAA State Championship in 1997. He then played for the Sixers from 2002-06. Now, hes back in Philly spending the summer playing basketball with fellow local stars.
With the NBA currently locked out, summer leagues like the Delco Pro-Am League are a good opportunity for NBA players to stay in shape. Its also a great opportunity for college and overseas players to test their mettle against NBA players.
I play in this league because I love playing the game, Salmons said. Its good competition, so I want to try and win. At the same time, Im trying to get in shape and get ready for the season.
Salmons, whose Millennium All Stars won the Delco Pro-Am League Championship last summer, was on the court Sunday night at Competitive Edge Sports. His team, which includes former Plymouth-Whitemarsh and Siena point guard Ronald Moore and former Siena forward and Reading native Alex Franklin, took on Omega Medical, which includes former Penn Charter teammates and NBA players point guard Sean Singletary and forward Rob Kurz, and former Villanova players Reggie Redding and Antonio Pena.
Salmons struggled in the first half, scoring only nine points, and the game remained close throughout. But Salmons turned up the heat in the second half with 24 of his 33 points to lead his team to an 86-77 victory. With his team up 70-69, Salmons drained a three-pointer. Then, with his team up 76-71, Salmons hit a step-back baseline jumper over Kurz to put the game away.
I guess the competitive side came out, Salmons said. Im not in the greatest shape, so I cant go hard like that all game.
On June 23, Salmons was traded from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Sacramento Kings. Later that night, the Kings drafted Jimmer Fredette, Tyler Honeycutt and Isaiah Thomas. A few days later, the Kings traded Omri Casspi to the Cavs for J.J. Hickson. Those players join an already solid core of Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson. Salmons is likely to start at small forward along with Evans, Thornton, Hickson and Cousins.
I was shocked, Salmons said about getting traded to the Kings. But we have a lot of talent. We have a chance to have a good team. We just have to play together.
Salmons, Kurz and Singletary werent the only NBA players on the court Sunday night. Former Temple star Mardy Collins, who went to high school at Simon Gratz and was selected by the New York Knicks in the first round of the 2006 draft, scored 13 points to lead T.Y.G.T.A.L. to a 60-55 win over Trad Jazz. Collins teamed with former Temple teammate Dustin Salisbery and Morehead State grad Kenneth Faried, who was recently drafted in the first round by the Denver Nuggets.
The Trad Jazz, a team full of former and current Penn players, nearly defeated a team full of professional players. But a layup in the final minute by Faried broke a tie and gave his team the victory. Penn sophomore Miles Cartwright kept his team in the game with big shot after big shot. The 6-foot-3 point guard can flat-out score, no matter what the competition. The Trad Jazz also includes former Penn forward Mark Zoller, senior Tyler Bernardini and incoming freshman Patrick Lucas-Perry.
In the final game of the night, Temple guards Khalif Wyatt, Dalton Pepper and Will Cummings led Under Armour Elite to an 87-76 win over H.C. Ball. Wyatt led his team in scoring with 22 points and added three rebounds, three assists and a steal.
I feel like Im in the best shape of my life, Wyatt said. Im just working all summer. Im been working on my ball handling, getting quicker, and just keeping my man in front of me and being a solid defender.
Pepper, who recently transferred to Temple from West Virginia, will have to sit out this season because of NCAA transfer rules. But Wyatt is already looking forward to the 2012-13 season, when he and Pepper will share the backcourt together.
I played a little bit of AAU with Dalton, Wyatt said. I played against him a lot throughout high school. Hes been one of my best friends throughout this whole process. I always wanted to play with him and now I get the chance to play with him for a year. Im excited.
Wyatt, who averaged 10.1 points per game last season as a sophomore, was an integral part of the Owls run to the third round of the NCAA tournament. He scored 10 or more points in each of the last seven games of the season.
Wyatt will likely be the sixth man on the 2011-12 Owls, a team that returns every key player other than Lavoy Allen. The Owls have one of the better backcourts in the country and have an opportunity to win the Atlantic 10 and go even deeper in the NCAA tournament.
I think were going to be really good, Wyatt said. I think our guards can play with any guards in the country. We lost Lavoy, but with Michael Eric, Rahlir Jefferson, Anthony Lee, and Jimmy McDonnell, I think they can come together and replace Lavoy. But no one player is going to replace what Lavoy did.
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