Japanese team's presence highlights local hoops tournament

Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 10:40pm
Staff reports

One of the primary goals of the Tennessee Dragons is to help players develop their skills and gain exposure with the idea that they can sign professional contracts overseas.

This week, in fact, former Middle Tennessee State star Calvin O’Neill signed with Fjolnir in Iceland and became the sixth member of the Dragons’ 2010-11 roster to join an international pro league.

Next month, though, the United Basketball Association franchise will welcome a team of foreign players when Team Japan competes in the Tennessee Dragons Summer Invitational (TDSI). The team will feature players from two professional leagues in Japan as well as a pair of import players.

The TDSI will take place Aug. 27-28 at Hooptown USA in Smyrna and will feature slam dunk and 3-point contests as well as interaction with scouts and players from around the world.

The Dragons will not have O’Neill, who graduated from MTSU in 2010 and averaged 17.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game last season.

“I just want what’s best for my guys,” Dragons coach and founder Steve Dolan said. “I’m all about the UBA and what we stand for. No disrespect to the other league, but we take pride in placing our players.”

Their tournament, therefore, is a rare opportunity to bring in players from elsewhere.