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Memphis Pro-Am is a growing part of the local hoops mix

Terry Davis

For Memphians, basketball is a year-round sport and the Memphis Pro-Am, which is rolling through its second season, is a solid part of the local hoops mix.

Basketball enthusiasts have been treated to several professional players and amateur players playing side by side. Cameron Payne, a Memphis native now playing for the Phoenix Suns, played earlier in this summer.

And former University of Memphis Tigers guard could be spotted playing with two highly touted Class of 2024 recruits, Billy Richmond Jr. and Curtis Givens III. Both players are high on the list of wanted players for next season for Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway.

Richmond, the son of former Memphis Tiger and owner of the Wing Guru, Billy Richmond Sr., is completing his senior season at Camden High School in New Jersey. He is being highly recruited, including by the Tigers and the University of Kentucky.

“It is a great opportunity for me to showcase my talents,” Richmond said about being in the city for the Memphis Pro-Am. “I wanted to give back to Memphis and give them a show.”

So, when is he going to make this announcement?

“I have two dates in mind. The first one is before school and the other is right before basketball season,” he said.

Givens, the son of Memphis promoter Curtis Givens Jr., is playing for prep powerhouse Monteverde.  The 6’2” point guard has blossomed since leaving Bartlett High School to attend prep school.  Monteverde has consistently produced top rated players over the last decade and is always in ranked in the top 10 in all high school polls.

Former Memphis Grizzlies Kennedy Chandler, who was released by the Grizzlies late last season and who played well for the Brooklyn Nets NBA Summer League team, choose to play the Pro-Am.

Kennedy Chandler (Photo: Terry Davis/The New Tri-State Defender)

As for playing in the NBA Summer League, Chandler said, “I had a great time. It felt good to get back to hooping again. Being back on the court and seeing my mom and dad.”

With many other pro-am events to choose from, Chandler selected Memphis.

“It has been two months since I have been back here. I wanted to come back to help expand the pro-am here. I want to have more guys pull up to the pro-am next year.”

Adonis Thomas, a former Memphis Tigers player, also got in on the Memphis Pro-Am action.

“It is a great opportunity to showcase that we are still playing ball and there are a lot of professional players in the city,” he said. “I am thankful to continue to be doing it throughout the summer.”

Thomas, who played pro-ball for a Polish team that finished third in its league, is looking for a new contract to continue his pro career.

Nick Tuggle is running the Memphis Pro-AM league again this season.

“It has been great,” said Tuggle. “We are beginning to gain a lot of traction. A lot more guys are starting to participate, and the crowds are larger.”

The league will continue to play games at the Orange Mound Community Center on Tuesdays and Thursday, with games at 6:30 and 7:30.  Playoffs start on August 10 and the championship game is set for August 17.

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