During the offseason, whether it’s practicing on their own or working out with a team, millions of basketball players around the world (college, pro, and semi-pro alike) look to hone their skills in some way or another. But no amount of practice could be compared to the real thing; competing against other elite players.
Pro-Am Leagues have always been a great way to experience that intense competition, and with the rise of social media, have only become more popular. New York has the Rucker League, Los Angeles has the Drew League, and for the last 3 years, San Diego has brought you the Swish Pro-Am League.
From up-and-coming college superstars, to veterans of the hardwood, every player that has dedicated their time to play with us has been instrumental to our league’s success; so we thought it would only be fair to share some of their successes.
The 2021 Swish Pro-Am League Most Valuable Player and San Diego State’s own Matt Bradley has become one of the most anticipated talents for this next college basketball season. After transferring from Cal, Bradley was named the Mountain West Conference’s Preseason Newcomer of the Year, and at the time of this posting, was just listed among 19 other candidates for the 2022 Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award. This year, he’ll be teaming up with Swish Alumni Trey Pulliam, Nathan Mensah, Keshad Johnson, Keith Dinwiddie, and more to bring us one of the most anticipated Aztec seasons yet.
Across the Atlantic, other alumni are making names for themselves in the European professional leagues. In early October, SDSU’s Matt Mitchell had a thunderous game winning putback dunk to put France’s SIG Strasbourg up two in their win against Kalev/Cramo after dropping 12 points and 9 rebounds for a near double-double. He’s currently averaging 11.5 points and 6.5 rebounds a game in the Basketball Champions League.
Mitchell isn’t the only one taking off overseas. UC Irvine’s Tommy Rutherford, after dominating in the Swish Pro-Am this summer working his way onto the All League first team, just entered his second year abroad, this time playing in the Swiss Professional League. Rutherford recently made headlines after dropping a 22 point double-double with 10 rebounds and contributed 3 blocks during their October win over BC Boncourt. As we saw in this summer’s competition, Tommy is a “walking double-double.”
Notably, San Diego high school basketball legend and University of San Diego alum, Johnny Dee (who led ‘The Reapers’ to become the 2020 Swish Pro-Am champs) was just featured on Doug Gottlieb’s “All Ball” podcast, where he talked about his experience at USD, the struggles of trying to make it in Croatia and Poland, and his newfound success in Spain where he’s currently averaging 15ppg. If you’re interested in listening to the entire podcast, you can find it at The Doug Gottlieb Show or look up the “All Ball Podcast” wherever you find your podcasts.
However, Johnny wasn’t the only star on his 2020 championship team who has made tremendous jumps in their career. San Diego native and former USC Trojan Evan Mobley has made quite possibly the biggest jump of all after being drafted 3rd overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2021 NBA Draft. At the time of this posting, Mobley has gone on to average 13 points and 8 rebounds in his first three games in the league and has already made a few highlight reels with some of the nastiest posters of the year so far! The future's looking bright for this rookie and Swish wishes him nothing but the best!
Swish has been incredibly fortunate enough to have had so many talented players, from varying schools and backgrounds, participate in our annual league. We can only hope that these players will inspire the next generation of hoopers, and that Swish will continue to be a platform that will support their game and their ambitions.