When I first found out that all the NBA Summer Leagues were cancelled due to the lockout, I was initially devastated. Although the news was disappointing at first, once summer Pro-Ams kicked off, my complaints went down the drain. NBA players have always made appearances in Pro-Ams and summer leagues across the country, however this summer has definitely been one to remember. Since there’s no Vegas, Orlando or Rocky Mountain league to keep players tied up this summer, and they can’t workout with their teams, what else are NBA stars supposed to do to stay in shape besides get busy?
By now, everyone has heard about the Goodman League and Drew League, the Indy Pro-Am and Jamal Crawford Summer Pro-Am, but there are definitely some great leagues out there flying under the radar. The Wallace Prather Jr. Pro-Am in Atlanta is one of those leagues.
Atlanta has its fair share of NBA talents just like other major cities, and when it comes to Pro-Am play, Wallace Prather is the only place to be. We caught up with Jennifer Prather who runs the league and asked her a few questions about the Wallace Prather Jr. Pro-Am.
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Dime: Who is Wallace Prather Jr.?
Jennifer Prather: Wallace Prather Jr. is my husband, he was one of the co-founders of the Atlanta Celtics AAU organization. He was very well-known in the basketball world down here in Atlanta for a long time. He was mostly known for getting scholarships for his players. After he passed away in 2005, I wanted to do something in honor of his hard work and dedication, so a friend of mine told me I should start a Pro-Am league in his honor and call it the Wallace Prather. We’ve had plenty of Atlanta Celtics alumni come out and play. Josh Smith, Dwight Howard and Derrick Favors have all come out. The money we raise from the league all goes to a charity foundation in my husband’s name.
Dime: How long has the league been in existence?
JP: This is our fourth year in existence. We started out with eight teams. After the first few years, we had to add on two more, so now we have 10 teams.
Dime: Who are some of the biggest names you’ve had play?
JP: Josh Smith, Jarrett Jack and Lou Williams come out every year. This year some of the younger guys like Derrick Favors, Travis Leslie and Josh Selby have come out too. Iman Shumpert has been playing with us long before he got drafted, so we’ve seen his game grow and progress a lot.
There are a lot of great players that come from overseas as well. Guys that can really play but didn’t get make the NBA like Zach Peacock from Georgia Tech, B.J. Elder, Jarrett’s former teammate, Anthony McHenry who plays in Japan, Jeff Newton, Donnell Harvey that played at Florida who now plays in China. There are plenty of guys playing in Spain and Turkey, we’ve got guys from all over the place.
Dime: I know Georgia is a hotbed for high school recruiting. With national powerhouse schools like Norcross, Wheeler and Milton all in the area, do you accommodate any highly-touted high school talents?
JP: No, high school kids have never participated. They’re not allowed to because of something to do with the NCAA. College kids have to go through NCAA compliance in order to participate in our league, but high school kids can’t do that. Rising freshman would be allowed to play, but nobody has tried yet.