Summer league for college stars launches

The summer is a dreary time for basketball fans. The NBA draft leaves all but a few former college basketball players by the wayside -- fighting for spots in Europe or the D-League or forced to confront the possibility that their days as stars are over.

A new summertime minor league basketball organization, the Basketball Alumni Legends League, is hoping to reconcile those two facts. The league is the brainchild of CEO Michael Wranovics, who believes "The-BALL" can fill the most specific of hoops niches -- a summer league composed of teams with former local collegiate stars.

The league would "feature former college standouts from the local universities, giving the teams instant star power and a built-in fan base," according to a Wednesday release. The season would run from July to August, "giving top players a high‐quality professional hoops alternative during their off‐season break from the NBA, D‐League or international competition." Theoretically, a team from Washington D.C. would feature players from Georgetown, Maryland, George Mason, etc., while a team from Philadelphia would include players from Temple, Villanova, La Salle, and on down the line.

The league would be a decidedly college-based endeavor: To be eligible, players must have completed at least three years of college basketball and exhausted their NCAA eligibility. If they haven't yet graduated, they must be completing cousework en route to a degree to play in the league.

In an email, Wranovics stressed The-BALL wasn't a D-League alternative or a full-fledged minor league. Indeed, he hoped it would maintain the same level of play as the D-League or top European leagues, and even supplement those players' incomes and careers, while offering a good option for summertime workouts.

"I have spoken with D-League executives, and they agree that we can actually help them increase their talent pool," Wranovics said. "For a certain segment of the player population, the additional income they can make playing for us added to the D-League salary makes it easier for them make the decision to stay in the U.S. They can play in both the D-League and The-BALL and not have to leave the country."

That future, if it happens, is still at least a year away. The league plans to launch July 2013, but is still considering its first markets and seeking out owners. There is much to solve first.

But the idea -- which sits at the nexus of fan nostalgia and post-college hoop dreams, and could provide some entertaining college-level-ish basketball during the very quiet summer months -- is undeniably intriguing. Something for college hoops fans to keep an eye on, at least.