Durham, NC is located almost in the center of the state, near the capital, Raleigh. Durham is a great location because of it’s proximity to Raleigh, the iconic Durham Bulls, and also because of the local colleges & universities. First off there’s Duke University. Then down the road is the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A little further down the road is North Carolina State University. And then throw in North Carolina Central University as well. Basically, Durham is the hub of some great ACC teams and because of that, basketball (and other sports) seasons can get very exciting!
I love basketball. Watching, that is. I’ve been to more games than I can count, whether they were my brother’s home-school middle school or high school team, pick-up games at church where I was in charge of the books, and I have been to my fair share of Duke games… as a Cameron Crazie. (that’s another post!) During the summer once the NBA is over, I miss basketball. Lucky for me, Durham is home to one of the best-kept summer secrets- the Greater NC Pro-Am.
Don’t believe me? Maybe the big names will do the convincing:
…and those are just the “well-known” players. Each team roster has a handful of players who you see play, and you think, “who are they? who do they play for?” Sometimes, the lesser-known players are the best ones to watch.
Crowds line up outside of the gym at NC Central before the games and file through metal detectors. Once inside, choose your seats in the gym and prepare to see some sick basketball. Warm-ups are my favorite to watch because not only do you get a sneak peek at everyone’s skills, you also get to see the attitudes of the players… are they here to rack up the points, or here to play as a team?
The league is divided up into teams. Sometimes, with players from rival schools on their roster. That’s when the games get interesting. At the Pro-Am games, it isn’t necessarily about what college you play for, but rather about if you win. Gotta give the crowd a good show, right? After the games, the team standings are posted. What that page doesn’t show is the top scorers of each game…. Tuesday night, PJ Hairston had 31 points, Rodney Hood had 25, Amile Jefferson had 18, and Leslie McDonald had 16.
The NC Pro-Am blog boasts of other great reasons why it’s the best: It’s the rucker of the South, there’s better music (in-house DJ!), SHEED Wallace(!), Durham has more character than Vegas, the NCCU location, the players, hecklers, the fact that it’s a free event, and announcer Bill Murphy. (“That was a three ball from DOWNTOWN!” is said quite a bit.)
Still don’t believe me that the NC Pro-Am is one of Durham’s best-kept secrets??? Check out the highlights video from July 17th. I was there watching the whole time.
More articles about the action at the Pro-Am:
Tar Heels Hold Court (The Herald Sun)
Quinn Cook with 24 points (News & Record)
Hot Games at NCCU Summer League Have Calming Effect (The Herald Sun) *personal favorite article!*
Duke Newcomers Start Slow (News & Record)
UNC Newcomer Tokoto (News & Record)
Rasheed Wallace fills elder statesman role (The Herald Sun)
If you’re in or near Durham, you need to look at the schedule and try to make it out to a game or two! Chances are, you’ll see some great basketball and maybe even gain a greater respect for other teams’ players. The NC Pro-Am is definitely one of Durham’s best-kept secrets!
And if you can’t make it to the games, follow the NC Pro-Am twitter account!
Or Mark Watson who usually tweets highlights from Duke players at the games!