If you’ve visited DimeMag.com before, you’re surely familiar with the Drew and Goodman Leagues. You know, the leagues that have brought us a 51-point performance from Brandon Jennings, a near triple-double from LeBron James, and an off the backboard slam from Kevin Durant. But D.C. and L.A. aren’t the only cities where basketball is being played this summer.
If you take a trip to Roxbury, Mass.’s Tobin Community Center, you might not find a slew of NBA All-Stars, but the level of talent won’t disappoint. With the likes of UConn’s Shabazz Napier, Boston College’s Danny Rubin, Northeastern’s Joel Smith, and Harvard’s Kyle Casey suiting up, the Boston Athletes United For Change Summer League hosts some of New England’s top talent.
This past weekend, I journeyed over to Roxbury to check out some of the action. Here are some observations:
1. Shabazz Napier can be a great leader…if he wants to
I must admit, I was quite surprised to learn that Jim Calhoun had named Napier, a rising sophomore who came off the bench for the Huskies last season, co-captain for the upcoming campaign. But just a few minutes after Napier took the court, I started to see why.
In a game featuring a number of rising seniors, Napier was the most vocal player on the court. He barked instructions at his wings and motioned to his bigs where he wanted screens. When Brown’s Tucker Halpern missed a couple of open looks early on, I expected Napier to walk up to Halpern and say, “Look man, I just won a national championship, and you go to school with Hermione. Let me take the shots.” Instead, Napier found Halpern open on the next possession and yelled, “Shoot it Tucker.” Later on, Halpern hit the biggest shot of the game, sending the contest into overtime with a last-second three pointer.
But Napier’s display of leadership was far from perfect. With just over a minute to play and his team trailing by seven, Napier started settling for contested threes as soon as he crossed half court. Napier was relegated to the bench for the remainder of the game where he watched his team pull off a shocking comeback victory.