Pro-Am a Great Experience

Triangle basketball fans have been treated this summer to great basketball as some of the top local college and professional stars have dazzled observers in the S.J.G. Greater NC Pro-AM.

The teams taking center stage in front of packed houses at NC Central's McLendon-McDougald Gymnasium consist of highly-touted recruits, former college stars, local legends and even current pros such as Josh Powell and P.J. Tucker.

For fans, it is a terrific event. They can watch some of the best talent in the country play basketball for free and interact with them between games. The league is one of the best of its kind and has completely overshadowed Raleigh's Chavis Summer League, which had been where all the top talent played every summer.

The event allows fans to judge for themselves what incoming recruits or committed prospects can eventually add to their favorite college team. The fans don't have to rely on videos, scouting reports or message boards for information, they can use their own eyes to see just how skilled Lorenzo Brown is, how athletic C.J. Leslie is or how explosive Ryan Harrow is.

NC State's incoming recruiting class, rated as high as No. 5 nationally by some publications, played for Team McGladrey for much of the ProAM. The trio showed they were worth the hype, mesmerizing the crowd with a combination of flashy passes and high-rising dunks. Current star Tracy Smith, junior wing C.J. Williams, and 2011 commitment Joseph Uchebo also played for McGladrey, and all three contributed in a variety of ways.

Team Stackhouse, featuring UNC recruits Reggie Bullock, Harrison Barnes, and P.J. Hairston and sophomore big man John Henson, proved to be McGladrey's "rival," winning both games played against the Wolfpack players.

For Duke, all three Plumlee brothers, Miles, Mason and newest commitment Marshall all made appearances as well as current players Nolan Smith, Ryan Kelly, Andre Dawkins, Seth Curry and incoming freshman Josh Hairston.

Incoming recruits teaming up with current players not only gives fans an idea of what to expect but also gives players a chance to play together and begin to develop the chemistry that will be crucial to success come November. The style of play may not be anywhere close to what those players will be expected to use in the actual season, but opening up lines of communication and just getting the feel for being on the court together is still beneficial.

For all the positives of the ProAM for players and fans, there are potential negatives. The potential for injury is always there anytime a player steps on the court, and the ProAM is no different. Duke guard Seth Curry rolled his ankle in a game this year and NC State guard Scott Wood hurt a finger. If an impact player at a big school were to be seriously injured in an event like this and miss an entire season, the perception of events like this may very well change.

Another fear, made known mainly by coaches, is that players will pick up bad habits playing the up and down, high-flying style of basketball that is somewhat of a given in summer league games. The defensive intensity, aside from a few highlight worthy blocks, is not at its highest or anywhere near what coaches will expect of these players come this fall. Some coaches, including Sidney Lowe, have expressed concern over issues like this.

While some do have concerns about the results and potential issues of the Pro-Am, it is tough to argue with the success of the event. Fans crowd in to see their favorite players and the players seem to enjoy every minute of it. These players also get a chance to play with teammates they will be expected to win games with in a less pressure-filled environment before starting school in the fall. One thing is certain -- when some of the best basketball players in North Carolina all show up to play in one gym, people will be there to watch it all.

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