By Nina Crowder
Corey Williams and Carl Graham from the Tucson Summer Pro Basketball League (TSPL) have generously given their time and efforts to the Hayden-Winkelman school by holding a youth basketball camp. The two-day event was held on June 17 and 18 with forty youth participants from the area, with another two-day camp scheduled in Kearny on June 24 and 25.
Corey Williams who is 6’7”, played basketball in Batavia and was the second player in 102 years of Bulldog basketball to have his jersey retired. Corey was Batavia’s all-time leading scorer and lead the Bulldogs to the Elite Eight Assembly Hall in 1991 before he began his career for Lute Olson at University of Arizona and a 12-year professional career in Asia and Europe. Williams now runs the Tucson Summer Pro League and broadcasts Pac-12 games for Fox Sports Net.
Carl Graham, who stands at 5’10”, started out at Santa Rita High School back in the late ‘80s. He has great ball handling skills, a variety of inside moves and long outside shots. When he got out of high school, he went to Italy and played for Brindisi.
Graham played throughout Europe and eventually back in the states with a team in Durango, Mexico, then headed back to Europe to play in France. He has a love for the game and hopes to teach the youth the camaraderie, fundamental skills for the game and to have fun.
TSPL is an NCAA-sanctioned league which allows for the participation of the area’s collegiate athletes as well as the top high school players. In its opening season, TSPL was the first NCAA-sanctioned league in the country to include both men and women players.
Based in Tucson, the TSPL is also home to quite a few NBA players, U of A alumni and other players who are currently playing professionally worldwide. This allows fans to see former Wildcats alongside current U of A players as well as some of Arizona’s top high school talent. TSPL is made possible by a number of Tucson area businesses and sponsors, offering free admission to all games.
With top NCAA Division I athletes and professionals from both the NBA and Europe, the TSPL is great summer basketball for players and fans of all ages.
The area youth really enjoyed the basketball camp and said even though they went home tired, they learned a great deal and had a lot of fun. Clarissa Gonzales said she loves basketball and this was a great two days for her, while Jennifer Gregorich said it was very fun but a lot of work.
At the end of the Hayden camp, the youth were presented with awards for specific abilities and skills. Each participant received a water bottle, jersey, basketball, backpack, a team picture and individual picture with the two keynote counselors.
Corporate sponsor Asarco also held a drawing for two silver coins. Corey Williams and Carl Graham were patient and accommodating in autographing items for the youth.