The Community Park basketball courts will be getting a facelift this week with cracks being repaired and the surface getting a paint job.
On June 10, the courts will get christened when the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League tips off its 25th season, featuring some new faces along with popular stalwarts.
“It is interesting; we have four teams that are more or less new,” said league commissioner Evan Moorhead, referring to first-year entries, Northeast Realty, Sneakers Plus, WTG, and Ballerz.
Two of those teams, though, will include some players who have spent a lot of time on Princeton courts.
“The Northeast Realty has some familiar faces with former Princeton High players with Ben Harrison, Matt Hoffman, and Davon Black; they will have a strong PHS flavor,” said Moorhead, the department’s assistant director of recreation.
“Sneakers Plus is being run by Skye Ettin [a former PHS standout]. It is the current TCNJ team. I expect them to be competitive. I was walking through the park today and saw them out there playing pick-up with Jason Carter. They should have chemistry, they have some pieces and they have young legs.”
The WTG and Ballerz squads boast some young talent. “WTG has some college age guys from the same area as the Clinton Kings,” added Moorhead.
“Ballerz is a group of Montgomery and Hillsborough guys. They are guys who have played AAU, they are 18-19. They are playing D-3 or will be this winter. They could be similar to the PA Blue Devils.”
In Moorhead’s view, the Blue Devils, a Pennsylvania-based team with several D-3 players, could be line for a breakthrough campaign.
“It could be the Blue Devils year, they have a solid nucleus,” said Moorhead of the squad which posted a 6-3 record in regular season action last summer. “They always seem to be one big body short.”
After coming up short in recent seasons, Winberie’s won the 2012 championship series and will be shooting for a repeat.
“Winberie’s is back; the word on the street is that Evan Johnson won’t be able to play for them this year,” said Moorhead.
“He was their big guy and they will miss him, Mark [team manager Mark Rosenthal] is always working the waiver wire so I am sure he will bring some good guys in. Chris Hatchell will be back and he has hit more big shots than just about anyone out there.”
Last year’s runner-up, Ivy Inn, will be looking to take another title shot as they will be led again by former PHS and TCNJ standout Bobby Davison.
“Ivy will be a similar group,” said Moorhead. “They could make another run.”
Another perennial contender, Dr. Palmer, has added to its group. “DeQuan [former PHS star DeQuan Holman] is playing for Dr. Palmer, that is a big addition for them,” said Moorhead of the squad which went 7-2 in 2013 and entered the playoffs as the top seed.
The PHS boys’ hoops entry, Princeton Youth Sports, is back with Mark Shelley at the helm for the first time after completing his debut season at the helm of the program this winter. The team known as Clinton Kings last summer is returning under the Clear View Window Cleaning name.
While the league has produced some dynasties in its first 24 seasons, Moorhead believes that parity will be a theme this summer.
“I think it is wide open,” said Moorhead, noting that the league will mark its 25th anniversary and induct a new Hall of Fame class on June 28 with a doubleheader and a cookout.
“The four top returning teams, Winberie’s, Ivy Inn, Dr. Palmer, and PA Blue Devils have proven that they can stay competitive.”