With the NCAA men’s basketball season several months away and the NBA lockout in full force, basketball players around the nation have participated in exhibition games and tournaments to stay in shape and keep their skills sharp.
For Butler sophomores Khyle Marshall and Chrishawn Hopkins, as well as some former Butler stars and current NBA players, the Knox ProTrain 2011 Indy Pro Am filled the basketball void.
“[Playing in the Pro Am] keeps you in the flow instead of sitting around,” Marshall said.
The Pro Am featured eight teams playing nine regular- season games apiece followed by three days of playoff games.
Carlos Knox, the CEO of Knox ProTrain LLC and the organizer of the Pro Am, had a key goal for the league when he developed it.
“We wanted to make sure it was a solid run for college and professional athletes,” Knox said.
In three seasons of existence, the Pro Am has gone from a side game for professional athletes to a training ground for college athletes and NBA players alike.
Current and former Butler players have taken advantage of the league’s advancement. Playing alongside and against Marshall and Hopkins were Matt Howard, Shelvin Mack, Gordon Hayward and Avery Jukes.
Hopkins, who was on the Gray Team with Atlanta Hawk Jeff Teague, had multiple strong performances during the Pro Am.
In eight games Hopkins reached double-digits in points seven times, scoring more than 20 points on three separate occasions. In one contest, he finished an alley-oop dunk that landed him on YouTube.com the next day.
Marshall also was impressive in limited time. Though he played in only four of the Orange Team’s games, he recorded 15 points in his third game as well as a double-double in his fourth and final game.
“I got an opportunity to work on things, and I feel that I did pretty well,” Marshall said.
Butler head basketball coach Brad Stevens, who is currently in China as a coach for the United States’ team in the World University Games, said the Pro Am is a positive experience for his players.
“I think it’s always good for guys to work on their games in the summer,” Stevens said. “I will know a lot more about how much people voluntarily improved over the summer when we get a chance to get back in the gym.”
Knox said the league can be a valuable experience for athletes like Marshall and Hopkins.
“[We want to] get college athletes prepared for the upcoming season,” Knox said. “We’re looking to enhance their games and get them ready for the next level.”
Upon the completion of his second season in the Pro Am, Marshall said he had similar feelings.
“It builds your confidence and helps get you where you want to go,” Marshall said.