- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 27, 2012

When the NBA season comes to a close in late June, basketball fans must wait until mid-fall for the sport to pick back up with the start of college basketball and a fresh NBA season.

That will change next year.

A new “post-college” league called The Basketball Alumni Legends League (The-BALL) will start in the summer of 2013, its founder announced Wednesday. The league will focus on talent that goes undrafted by the NBA, putting those players on teams within the area they played for their school.

For example, a Washington team would be built from players who attended Georgetown, George Mason, Maryland, George Washington and American.

Playing from June to September, the league hopes to feature four teams in 2013 and double to eight teams playing a 20-game schedule the following summer.

“Summer is the perfect time,” founder and CEO Michael Wranovics said in a statement, “because that’s when so many of the best players become available.”

The-BALL will makes its debut late this summer with two exhibition games in Washington and Philadelphia. Those dates, in addition to the venues and which players will participate will be announced Tuesday.

The objective of the league is to give those players who shined at their universities another chance to keep playing.

“When I went to Stanford, [Arthur Lee] helped lead them to the Final Four,” Wranovics said of his motive to set up The-BALL. “He wasn’t drafted, and I was kind of surprised.

“I realized this is not only a Stanford problem, but a college basketball problem.”

The league also gives the players’ former fan bases a chance to see them in a much closer location.

“It’s a little mind-blowing how many of the most popular college players end up in foreign countries for the rest of their playing careers,” Wranovics said. “Their most loyal fans, the ones who rooted them on from their freshman year to senior night, rarely get to see them play again, if ever.”

Markets that are in sight to feature teams for The-BALL include Washington, Philadelphia, New York, Syracuse, Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, Richmond and Hartford.

Teams will primarily play in arenas at college campuses and in facilities in downtown areas. The model is aimed to keep it low-cost but appeal to local business people.

“Our teams are considerably less expensive than a minor-league baseball team and will come with the unprecedented advantages of a built-in fan base and locally-known stars,” Wranovics said.

Because the league will focus on college talent that does not make it straight to the professional ranks, players must meet academic requirements before being allowed to sign with a team.

Players must complete at least three years of college and finish out their NCAA eligibility. In addition, players must either be graduated or working to complete their degree. The players will be given a supplemental income.

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