Who says the Rocky Top League isn’t good preparation for the real college basketball season?
Since he’ll be teaming with No. 1 draft pick Jordan McRae, incoming Tennessee signee Pops Ndiaye can use Knoxville’s popular summer league to get a head start on his duties for the Vols.
Asked how he designed his draft Wednesday night, Campus Lights coach Brent Watts offered a simple explanation:
“Get guys to get Jordy the ball. Rebound his shots and get him the ball.’’
McRae, a first-team All-SEC performer as a junior, was first off the draft board as the Rocky Top League gets set for opening night Monday.
There will be a five-game schedule — June 17, 19, 24, 26, July 1 — followed by a championship and third-place game on July 3.
The league moves to Christian Academy of Knoxville this summer after a long run at Bearden High School. The venue is smaller but cooler. Hint: air conditioning.
There will be three games each night, beginning at 6.
McRae was the No. 2 pick last summer. Moving up to the top of the board was a no-brainer for Watts.
“I just thought back to watching the season,’’ Watts said, “watching the Vols play.
“That and the fact that he put 64 on me last year.’’
All six teams will have some UT connection.
Josh Richardson was the No. 2 pick and will be teamed with Armani Moore and incoming freshman Darius Thompson on Rice GMC.
Brandon Lopez will be joined by first-round pick Wayne Chism, Galen Campell and former UT guard Jon Higgins on the Knoxville News Sentinel team.
The News Sentinel also drafted one-time UT commitment Josh Selby, who apparently will be in town with ex-Vol Bobby Maze, who was drafted by DeRoyal Industries.
Robert Hubbs III will play for Next Level, along with ETSU’s Lester Wilson and Dwight Tarwater of Cornell.
Dre Mathieu, the Minnesota signee by way of junior college and Central High School, was a last-minute addition to join McRae on Campus Lights.
League director Andre Whitehead added a new twist this year, a “Legend’s” draft round.
“They’ve called me and said they want to play,’’ Whitehead said, “but they’ve also said they wouldn’t be here more than one or two games.
“In the past we’ve always put ’em in the draft and you took a chance. Sometimes they show and sometimes they don’t. I thought this was a better way to do it.’’
Most of Tennessee’s roster is accounted for. The exceptions who are not scheduled to play are Jeronne Maymon, Jarnell Stokes, Derek Reese and Quinton Chievous.
Maryville College, Tusculum, Walters State and Roane State are well represented, along with a number of other area colleges.
Boo Jackson, who played at Eastern Michigan and was last year’s No. 1 pick, is back and will play for Choice Spine.
Whitehead didn’t rule out a roster changing before or after opening night.
“That’s kind of our thing,’’ he said. “We find a way to do it. We just fit ’em in wherever we can.’’
Follow Mike Strange on Twitter at Strangemike44.
Rocky Top Summer League
Monday, June 17: 6-News Sentinel vs. DeRoyal; 7:30-Campus Lights vs. Rice; 9-Next Level vs. Choice Spine.
Wednesday, June 19: 6-News Sentinel vs. Rice; 7:30-DeRoyal vs. Choice Spine; 9-Campus Lights vs. Next Level.
Monday, June 24: 6-Next Level vs.DeRoyal; 7:30-Campus Lights vs. News Sentinel; 9-Rice vs. Choice Spine.
Wednesday, June 26: 6-Next Level vs. Rice; 7:30-News Sentinel vs. Choice Spine; 9-DeRoyal vs. Campus Lights.
Monday, July 1: 6-Choice Spine vs. Campus Lights; 7:30 Rice vs. DeRoyal; 9-News Sentinel vs. Next Level
Wednesday, July 3: 6-third-place game; 7:30-championship.
Campus Lights: Jordan McRae (UT); Dre Mathieu (Minnesota); Greg Hernandez (Maryville); Pops Ndiaye (UT); Trey Suttles (Cleveland State); Oscar Butler (Maryville); Calvin Walker (King); Spencer Shoffner (Maryville); Jet Griffin (Maryville); V.J. Brown; John Fields (UT).
Rice GMC: Josh Richardson (UT); Armani Moore (UT); Darius Thompson (UT); Greg Murphy (Roane State); Joey Bodewig (Maryville); Corey Harris (Roane State); Carson Brooks (Carson-Newman); Quinton Young (Hiwassee); John Crowe (Milligan), Josh Gregory (Tennessee Wesleyan); Cameron Tatum (UT).
Knoxville News Sentinel: Wayne Chism (UT); Brandon Lopez (UT); Tony White Jr. (College of Charleston); Jamorris Gaines (Lee); Galen Campbell (UT); Josh Selby (Kansas); Jon Higgins (UT); J.D. Miller (Tusculum); Cory Fagan (Tusculum); Marcellus Roberts (Cleveland State); Tyler Smith (UT).
DeRoyal Industries: Bobby Maze (UT); A.J. Davis (UT); D’Montre Edwards (UT); Keith Jumper (Tusculum); Drew Sandifer (King); Rod Drummond (Roane State); Isaiah Harrison (Freed-Hardeman); Darius Carter (Tusculum); Brock Rowan (Shorter); Ryan Walden; Skylar McBee (UT).
Next Level: Robert Hubbs (UT); Lester Wilson (ETSU); Dwight Tarwater (Cornell); Ryan Westbrooks (Lee); Kenny Hall (UT); C.J. Foster (Roane State); Ben Williamson (Maryville); Corey Billingsly (Lee); Tres Palmer (Roane State); Alan Holt (Bryan); Chris Lofton (UT).
Choice Spine: Boo Jackson (Eastern Michigan); Charles Little (Dayton); Jonathan Adams (Old Dominion); James Gallman (ETSU); Addison Flynn (Tusculum); Will Adams (Presbyterian); Quincy Scates (Tennessee Wesleyan); Rob Murphy (UT); Cameron High (Walters State); Dedron Pillow (Walters State); Tobias Harris (UT).