Call it a crap-shoot. Luck of the draw. Cross your fingers. Whatever it may be. But in the world of independent minor league sports, you have to hope for a few breaks now and then. Take the North East Pennsylvania Breakers for example. They are preparing for their inaugural season in the United States Basketball League, which tips off April 22nd, and things are starting to fall nicely into place.
Call it a crap-shoot. Luck of the draw. Cross your fingers. Whatever it may be. But in the world of independent minor league sports, you have to hope for a few breaks now and then.
Take the North East Pennsylvania Breakers for example. They are preparing for their inaugural season in the United States Basketball League, which tips off on April 22nd. To fill their roster, they are pulling out all the stops, just as their competition is doing. A phone call from an agent here, a video tape received there. This is the nature of the business. But things are starting to fall into place nicely for the Breakers.
After a strong first draft, they are huddling up to prepare for their Veteran's Camp, which opens on Wednesday, April 19th. It will also be an open tryout for hopefuls. The camp will be held at the Breakers home court, the Lackawanna Fitness Center, and finish up on April 21st.
Some of the players drafted by NEPA include New Yorker Steve Burtt of Iona. The 6'0" guard played four years for the Gaels and averaged 25.2 points per game this past season. He has won numerous individual awards as a collegiate, including the MAAC Tournament MVP in 2006.
If family ties and bloodlines have anything to say about ability, then the Breakers can count on Lee Melchionni of Duke to be a sleeper in the third round of the USBL Draft. His father Gary also was a Blue Devil stand-out and played two seasons with the Phoenix Suns in the NBA. His uncle Bill was a star player at Villanova and was one of the unsung heroes of the New York Nets of the American Basketball Association. It is young Lee's birthright to be a successful professional basketball player. The 6'6" southpaw forward is a Lancaster native and would be a nice fit playing in his home town.
The Breakers' final selection in the draft was Kyle Myrick, guard from Lincoln University. The Division III National Player of the Year, Myrick led his team to a 25-5 record as the nationís leading scorer with a 33.7 points per game average.
Already in the fold with the Breakers are a pair of big men that surely will control the paint on both ends of the floor. Cory Hightower and Steve Castleberry have been signed as free agents and will be a major force in the league.
Hightower brings experience to the team. The 6'8" forward was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs in the second round of the 2000 NBA Draft. Hightower has also played for the Los Angles Lakers, Chicago Bulls and Orlando Magic Summer League teams. He was also signed by the Charlotte Hornets in 2001 and participated in their entire training camp. Other previous stops include the CBA, USBL, Finland and Venezuela.
Castleberry is a 7', 250-pound New Jersey native that was with the Philadelphia 76ers in October 2005 and then played 20 games with the Sioux Falls Sky Force of the CBA. The 25-year old graduated Rider College in 2005.
Other free agent signings include:
Chris Sandy, who is coming off a superb season in the ABA where he was the catalyst behind the Strong Island Sound advancing to the playoff semifinals. The 6'2" guard from New York joined the Sound during the season at a point where the team was struggling. Coming off the bench, Sandy gave them a spark and in no time won the starting point guard job. A flexible player, he can fill in at either the '1' or the '2' and is deadly from three-point range. Donít give him the lane because Sandy will go ahead and take it to the hole. He also named to the All-ABA Honorable Mention team and previously played with the Harlem Globetrotters in 2005 after playing at Fresno State.
Returning from the Breakers club that went 6-2 competing in the ABA last season are guards Gary Goldman and Dave Januzzi.
The Lackawanna Fitness Center will be open to the public during the camp. Tickets will also be on sale at the location from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. The Breakers opening game will be played at home versus the Pennsylvania Valley Dawgs on Saturday April 22nd at 7:00 pm.
For more information, please visit the official team web site at www.nepabreakers.com