A new late summertime league took off on August 10, allowing local players from a variety of schools to garner more attention for themselves and help them build their own games heading into a new season this winter.
The Summit Summer League has been put together by a variety of local basketball names and faces, allowing 30 players to compete against each other over four weeks in a variety of games and competitions. Led by Logan Traylor, who has emerged as one of the best young basketball-centric people in Fort Wayne, and Snider boys coach Jeremy Rauch, the league’s opening night was one that allowed players to quickly start with a variety of tasks to better themselves as basketball players.
It was cool to see the players get a chance to interact with media, including us at Outside the Huddle, going through a variety of interviews as well as video interviews filmed by the Summit Summer League. Some of these guys have previous media experiences and others didn’t, but getting in front of a stranger with a camera or a recorder being shoved in your face is the fastest way to learn. And they don’t have to be great with the media today, as long as these exercises make them better this winter. The players worked through free throw competitions, one-on-one competitions and of course the games themselves. With 20-minute, running clock halves, the games that the Summit Summer League are putting out aren’t exactly cookie cutter.
Intrigue No. 1: the use of a 24-second shot clock. We all know the argument, it is widespread: should Indiana high school basketball be using a shot clock in every game? Depending on who you ask, we may be near or far from that happening. But in the Summit Summer League, that clock is on, though it really didn’t come into play often. With officials, coaches and scorers that aren’t used to using the clock, things aren’t always going to go perfectly, but the clock implements two things as I see it: 1) being able to learn to play at an accelerated pace without getting out of control and 2) it helps prepare those who may have college basketball options to be aware of the clock that would be coming their way.
The games are filmed and a non-live broadcast will be made available of each game on YouTube with commentary and multiple video angles. The video group that the Summit Summer League is using also conducted in-game interviews with some players as they checked out of the game. Elements like that are great to get these kids accustomed to differing circumstances, take them out of their comfort zone and make them think while still being prepared to head back into the game when their number gets called.
Another element that is unique will play out in the weeks to come. The 30 players were split up into three teams for August 10, as they will be each week ahead. But those teams won’t be the same each week as players are shuffled around to maximize development, promote competitive games and also to give these guys a variety of different teammates and types of players to work with. It is all in the name of helping make the participants of this league more well rounded.
There are a lot of good leagues in the late summer and into the fall for area players, there has never been a doubt about that in northeast Indiana. But the Summit Summer League is clearly angling to be something different and early returns look like that could be a success. As anyone would tell you, leagues like this always have room for growth and improvements. But for the first night, the Summit Summer League was more than just basketball, it was an experience and an exercise in overall player growth.
The Summit Summer League continues through August 31 on Wednesday nights with games at 6, 7 and 8 p.m. all played at The Summit on Rudisill in Fort Wayne; admission is $10.
SUMMIT SUMMER LEAGUE AUGUST 10 PLAYERS THAT STOOD OUT
Monte Smith, Wayne
Smith can just go and there should be no question about that. His motor is high and his athleticism is, at times, through the roof. He controlled the pace when his team was on the court, worked with his guys on getting movement for the offense and that isn’t easy to do when you’ve met your teammates 10 minutes earlier. That shows how good of a communicator he was. And did he ever jump; Smith’s rebounding, defense at the rim and overall activity in the air was impressive to say the least.
Preston McCann, Mississinewa
With Mississinewa sitting outside of the OTH coverage area, McCann is a new name and face for our readers. Anyone attending on August 10 should know who he is now because he had no problem scoring at the rim or the perimeter and kudos to him for having the confidence to do so against a lot of kids he’s never seen before. McCann helped lead his team with 17 points in his first game, possibly being even more impressive with his passing. After his opponent started collapsing on him more due to early scoring, McCann’s court vision showed strongly getting other players involved often.
Nolan Cumberland, Tippecanoe Valley
Another non-typical OTH guy, we don’t talk about Cumberland, but glad to out of August 10. He was incredibly tenacious in how he handled the games, knowing that he was going to be leaned on didn’t seem to bother him at all. Cumberland scored at all three levels and did so rather smoothly. It was written all over his face each game that he is very determined and he just goes to work as a blue collar player with a deep bag of tricks in how to get open and create for himself with and without the ball.
Jaxson Gould, Warsaw
There was no doubt that Gould was arguably the best player in the gym on August 10, but he really worked hard to stay diverse in his play. Before games, Gould told me that he expects to work off ball more at Warsaw this season and he certainly tried to work that way at the Summit Summer League. Though, when it was time to takeover, Gould did that too. Down the stretch of his team’s first game, Gould took control, including a big midrange fadeaway in the closing seconds to take the lead and secure a win.
Dominic Keferl, Carroll
When you look for a big-time shooter, you want a kid who can make split-second decisions, Keferl was that guy on August 10. Against some bigger and older competition, he had a quick and lethal trigger, knocking down some big shots for his team. The gym was full of really good shooters, but Keferl stood out not only for what could be a future as an elite shooter but because of his willingness to make it happen.
*Check back for more standout players from the league’s other weeks as they happen.
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