USF Dons Kruize Pinkins (left) and Tim Derksen (right) of “East Bay” play at Kezar Pavilion during a San Francisco Pro Am basketball game on June 24th, 2013. Photo by James Stapleton.
Summer is in full swing. Major League Baseball is approaching the Mid-Summer Classic, the WCC just held it’s Summer Executive / President’s Council Meetings, and our Summer solstice was last week. So here is the real question – how can we keep up with some WCC basketball? More importantly, how can we keep up with our Dons? The answer may be closer than you think.
If you reside in San Francisco, you are indeed in luck. The San Francisco Bay Area Pro-Am just kicked off its 34th year of basketball. Not only can you catch a glimpse at some future 2013-2014 Dons action, but you can take a stroll down memory lane and cheer on the Green & Gold of the past. Moreover, you can watch some basketball from historic Kezar Pavilion. That’s right; you can watch a game in the same place USF played during their 1949 NIT, 1955 & 1956 NCAA championship runs.
This may sound like a plug for the league, but hear me out. Not only do kids from multiple NCAA teams participate, but ABA, D-2, JC, International, D-League and NBA players join in the action as well.
"Players always come back–When I was a kid, I would come back and play in Pro-Am because there’s always a great run.– Rex Walters (2008), USF Basketball Coach"
The beauty of this league is there are no stats and no reporting involved. It feels like an underground basketball fight club. Unplanned scenarios and unheard of match ups come to reality. Fans here don’t root for teams; they root for highlight reel type performances. However, when it comes to the WCC and modern-day Dons action in the Pro-Am, there are four names that fans should look out for:
Tim will be going into his sophomore year at San Francisco in 2013-2014. Last year, he came up big as a freshman leader. Derksen started in the first 25 games for that Dons and found minutes in each game USF played in during the 2012-2013 campaign. He absolutely asserted himself as a key player in the lineup, but may need some extra experience to bring his game to the next level. Dons fans can only hope that this opportunity will allow him to build confidence and help spark the Dons to the top of the WCC.
Last year, the Dons were a young team and did not have a single senior on the squad. This coming academic year, two seniors will graduate from the Hilltop – Cody Doolin and Cole Dickerson. Early last season, Dickerson was among the leaders in the nation in rebounds per game and seemed to grow into the Green & Gold’s primary threat late in the game. His efforts led to recognition in the WCC’s All-Conference Team. This season will be his last Pro-Am tune up for this WCC Player of the Year hopeful. Fans can only hope any success he finds this summer transitions into qualities he can use at the Hilltop.
He is the new kid in town straight from Chipola Junior College in Marianna, Florida. Pinkins was highly recruited but ultimately chose San Francisco over Murray State and Florida Gulf Coast. In 29 games during the 2012-2013, season Pinkins averaged 11.4 points per game and 6.9 rebounds per game. With the Dons, Pinkins will be reunited with a former Chipola assistant coach, Brent Crews. Crews was an assistant coach at Chipola during the 2011-2012 campaign before moving to the Dons. How Pinkins fits in Rex Walter’s line up is yet to be determined, but fans can catch a sneak peek at the 6’ 7’’ junior during the Pro-Am.
Wait what? – didn’t De’End get released by USF earlier this off-season? Yes, indeed he did. But this is a city kid, and we should all be rooting for him. It did not work out at USF, but as a former Don we can only wish him the best. Other WCC alumni players involved in the Pro-Am this year include Rob Jones (USD/SMC), Angelo Caloiaro (USF), John Bryant (SCU) and Jerome Gumbs (USF).
One last note about the 2013-2014 Dons participating in the San Francisco Pro-Am – they are all on the same team! You do not need to make multiple Kezar trips per week to watch the Green & Gold.
Each Pro-Am team plays one game per week until August 1st. Playoffs run through mid-August. More info on the San Francisco Bay Area Pro-Am, including rosters and schedules, can be found on their website: http://www.sanfranciscoproam.com/