Playaz Looking To Have A Ball
Jimmy Salmon has built the Tim Thomas Playaz into quite a program. With teams in age groups ranging from 9-17-year olds, and loaded with talent, the Playaz are a legitimate AAU machine.
Salmon's programs are built for the long term. The Playaz are strong, particularly in the 17 and 16 groups. "I would think we should be one of the teams to be considered to win some major championships," Salmon said of the bunch. "We're making cuts and not even having practice. If that's not incredible? We're now looking to just build from within."
Salmon attributes a lot of the team's success to having a sponsor, Tim Thomas, who plays in the NBA and is from the area. "How many people have an NBA player to be a sponsor? Everyone isn't in the same position we are in because of that."
The 17-year old Playaz roster is dotted with enough top-flight prospects to replenish a conference by itself. Big men Darryl Watkins, Terrence Roberts and Will Sheridan are high-major players. So are guards Jamar Nutter, Marquis Webb and Art Bowers. Through in small forward Sean Banks and you have a helluva nucleus of players who have been around each other a long time.
"Fortunately, for the last couple of years we have guys who have bought into what we are saying," Salmon said. "We need luck just like everyone else. I'll be damned if I want to be good this year and not next year."
When Salmon speaks of next year he means his 16-year old team currently manned by sophomores Courtney Nelson and Cedric "The Entertainer" Jackson. "Our sophomore team, relatively speaking is better than our junior team." Salmon thinks Jackson might be the best player in the entire program. However, Salmon makes no distinction between the teams and how they are handled. He says he treats the 16s just the same way he does the 17s. They get plenty of attention from the coach.
Last year, Salmon captured both the 17 and 16 titles at the Charlie Weber.
2002 Tim Thomas Playaz 17-under Roster:
Darryl Watkins, PF/C, 2003 Jamar Nutter, G, 2003 Sean Banks, SF, 2003 Marquis Webb, G, 2003 Will Sheridan, PF, 2003 Art Bowers, SG, 2003 Terrance Roberts, PF, 2003 Joe Sandberg, PG, 2003 Miles Orman, SF, 2003 Bashir Mason, PG, 2003
Salmon started the program back in 1993 when it was just Paterson AAU. Now, the Tim Thomas Playaz (since 1997) have a tradition as good as anybody around. We asked Salmon to name his all-time best players who have participated in the program.
First Team All-Tim Thomas/Paterson AAU
Top Row (L-R) Tim Thomas, Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter
Bottom Row (L-R) Eddie Griffin, DeShaun Williams
Second Team All Tim Thomas Playaz/Paterson AAU: Dajuan Wagner (played two years with Salmon), Brandin Knight, Brevin Knight, John Allen, Elijah Ingram
Photos courtesy AP: Bryant (Bob Galbraith), Tim Thomas (Darren Hauck), Vince Carter (Frank Gunn), Eddie Griffin (Jeff Zelavansky), DeShaun Williams (Gene Puskar)