Dime: I know you’ve heard about the Goodman League vs. Drew League game later this month. Have you ever considered competing against some of the other high-profile leagues in the nation?
JP: No, I haven’t considered that yet. Right now we’re just getting off the ground. We have more than enough talent to make sort of an All-Star team to represent the league, but I haven’t looked into it yet. Right now we’re taking baby steps. Currently I’m looking for some additional sponsorships, once we get a few more maybe we’ll branch out.
Dime: How do you feel the talent out of Georgia compares to the rest of the nation?
JP: Well I think that a lot of the guys that are playing in this league could play in the NBA. A lot of them deserve a chance to, but they never got the opportunity because of how hard it is to make it. Georgia has definitely produced some talented players, and some guys have been fortunate enough to make it to the NBA. But the guys who weren’t can play just as well for the most part. I feel that if we made a team to compete against other Pro-Am leagues we would definitely be tough to beat.
Dime: You mentioned that Iman Shumpert has been playing in your league for some years now. How have you seen his game evolve over the years?
JP: I’ve been watching Shump since he played his first games at Tech. He’s always been very, very competitive. When he was younger he used to hate coming out of the game. He’s so passionate about the sport and is such a high-energy guy that he can easily get his team hype. Last week I caught his game and he was on fire out there, poppin’ threes all over the court. I think he’s progressed mostly in his maturity. When he was younger I wouldn’t say he was unmanageable, but he was a little bit hardheaded. Now he’s much more poised and under control.
Dime: Have you given him any advice?
JP: I talked to him briefly after his last game. Every time I get a chance I always tell him, “Don’t go to New York and get a big head now, you have to listen. This is your job now so you have to do everything that is asked of you because you’re getting paid for your services.” If he keeps that in mind I’m sure he’ll do just fine up there.
Dime: What does your league provide for players in terms of opportunity?
JP: Well there isn’t much more opportunity you can provide for the NBA guys; for them it provides the opportunity to play somewhere against other top competition and stay in shape. One of the coaches, he goes by Vatalie, he’s a foreigner, his team is the Challengers. Almost all of his players are from overseas. We start the season out with 10 teams, but only eight make the playoffs, so he usually picks up some of the college guys that fall short of the postseason. Vatalie provides a great opportunity for college guys to get connections overseas. Aside from him, college guys also get a chance to compete against some great NBA talent.
Dime: What is your most memorable moment from the league?
JP: Hmm, that’s a tough question. There’s so many it’s hard to pick just one. Whenever he plays, Lou Williams loves to guarantee 50-plus points. Nine games out of 10 he’ll get 40, but he gets 50-plus occasionally. This past Thursday he told the guy who was guarding him he’d score 60 on him and he fell three points short with 57. He put on a great show though.
Follow Jaimie on Twitter at @SubZEROxPaste.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.