MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — There were a lot of familiar faces competing in the first Shelby County Pro-Am Basketball league held at the Orange Mound Community Center.
Former Tigers, like Chris Crawford, Adonis Thomas, and KJ Lawson, played in the playoffs Wednesday night. Lawson getting to play alongside his youngest brother, Johnathan.
“It would be rare that we get to play together, unless we go professional on the same team,” Johnathan Lawson said about playing with his brother. “This is our last few times playing unless it’s open run, but in a real game it’s really exciting and fun.”
Tigers guard Jayden Hardaway has been showing up every Wednesday night to compete since the tournament began a few weeks ago.
“Just supporting the city,” Hardaway said following his team’s game. “It’s something fun to do in the off season. Everybody out here is a pro or has been a pro before. So, it’s good runs for me.”
The Tigers look a lot different this year after some big off-season pick ups. But in just a short few months, Hardaway and Lawson said this team is already pretty solid.
“We hang with each other off the court, kicking it, being cool,” said Lawson. “It plays a big part in playing on the court and we’ll go out there and go to war against everybody else.”
“We got we got a small group right now,” said Hardaway. “Everyone was getting a whole lot of reps in practice, and it was building our chemistry well a lot. We’re pretty together.”
The biggest difference from this year and last year is simply the experience – 10 of the 13 players on the roster are either in their fifth year or redshirt seniors.
“We’re are all mature and we all work really hard,” Hardaway said. “So we’re going to have a lot of fun this year.”
“I think I’m the youngest player on the team with a scholarship, that’s very important because we have leadership,” said Lawson. “I can bring leadership. I’m a leader. It’s going to have us gel when it’s time to play.”
Lawson, who redshirted last season, said his growth has been substantial after spending the year just watching and practicing. Not only is he excited about the new additions on the court, he’s impressed with the new and well-known coaching staff.
“It’s an awesome coaching staff,” Lawson said. “We got Coach Faragi [Phillips], he brings toughness, he’s a Memphis coach. We got Coach [Frank] Haith from Tulsa, he’s a defensive guy, too. He pushes me a lot, he be on me a lot. He wants me to be the best I can.”