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Former area prep stars still pursuing pro hoops careers

Kenosha-4/7/13 Sun./YMCA #19 Rodney Clinkscales with Ballers game actiSunday Kenosha. | Joe Shuman~For Sun-Times Media

Kenosha-4/7/13, Sun./YMCA #19 Rodney Clinkscales, with the Ballers in game action Sunday in Kenosha. | Joe Shuman~For Sun-Times Media

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Play in the Independent Basketball Association/Premier Basketball League (IBA/PBL) out of the YMCA on 53rd street in Kenosha.

Tickets cost $1 for children, $3 for adults.

League’s regular season is 18 games, and then teams will play 3-4 games in the playoffs. 12-minute quarters, NBA arc.

The Ballers are 4-2 after beating the Holland (Mich.) Dream 157-138. Games are played in the 100s, but the game is still physical, with teams capable of coming up with defensive stops when they need to. Court isn’t NBA size, which helps create the high scores

The Ballers’ Devron Bostick, who played one season at the University of Minnesota, leads the league in scoring at 36 ppg. He had 40 against Holland.

In 2012, the Jay Bee Auto Basketball team. which had been a successful men’s team for more than a decade, became the Kenosha Ballers and entered into the IBA minor league and the team went 9-9 in it first season. This year, the IBA and PBL merged.

The Ballers will play Jereme Richmond’s league-leading Sauk Valley Predators team on Saturday at Sterling High School.

Other upcoming games: Sunday 4/14 Chicago Redline at Kenosha. Saturday 4/27 Lake County Stars at Kenosha

Area grads on Kenosha: Tim Baines (21 points, 8 rebounds vs. Holland), Justin Richmond (12 points, 4 rebounds), Rodney Clinkscales (7 points, 4 rebounds), Quiande Moore (DNP).

Jereme Richmond from Waukegan, Justin’s brother, is the other local player in the league.

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Updated: June 13, 2013 9:09PM

The irony here is that if you’re a follower of local basketball, then the Kenosha Ballers semi-pro team literally is the best entertainment deal around. A buck for kids to watch entertaining, high-quality hoops, and three dollars for an adult.

Problem is, only a half-dozen people around these parts know about the Independent Basketball Association/Premier Basketball League (IBA/PBL), and four of those six can’t remember the league’s name.

What people DO remember is the name of former area high school basketball stars. Four of them are on the Ballers roster — Zion-Benton grads Quiande Moore, Rodney Clinkscales and Big Tim Baines, along with Justin Richmond from Waukegan.

Justin’s younger brother, Jereme, plays for the Sauk Valley team (based in Sterling) in the same league.

The goal for all of them, of course, is to go pro — whether it be a pro team in Europe, Asia, or the NBA’s D-League (minor league). That’s why these guys are playing so hard for so little, and why watching them perform is a real treat.

The Ballers are owned and coached by Tony Moore, whose very clear about the objective of his team. “We’re trying to get these guys an opportunity to play at the pro level,” he said. “We have four (Ballers) who are playing overseas or in the D-League.”

In its simplest form, the IBA/PBL is a showcase for pro-quality basketball players looking for a break. And because they never know when a scout is going to be in the stands, they play all-out all the time, which makes for tremendous entertainment for the fans.

“Scouts come out and watch, but we also shop guys around,” Moore said. “By any means necessary, we try to help these guys get picked up. The stats are online so people who are looking for players to fill a position have access to that information. Here in the Midwest we’re known for having guards, but I get calls from all over the country.”

As for the four locals on the Ballers, here’s the rundown:

Rodney Clinkscales — The 23-year-old 6-1 guard works a couple of part-time jobs to “keep money in my pocket” and coaches AAU. He played at SMU where he was a captain his senior year; averaged 4.6 points per game in his career at SMU.

“The dream is always to get to the pro level where you can play for some money,” he said. “That’s always the ultimate goal, but we know we have to come together and win first for us to see any kind of rewards. This is my first time playing anything even remotely related to the pros, so I don’t feel like I know anything more than any of these other guys. I came here with the mindset to learn.

“For anybody up in here, even the coaches, basketball is something we give a lot of our time to. Right now, nobody here is getting paid for this, but when you’re not working, you’re pretty much doing something with basketball.”

Justin Richmond — The -6-7 forward coaches AAU for Full Package and tutors at Waukegan High. It’s his second season at this level. He played at the University of St. Francis in Joliet after attending Highland Community College

“Everybody here is playing with the objective to get to the next level, whether that be the D-League or overseas or the NBA,” he said, adding that “defense is what it takes to get to the next level. I don’t know about other teams, but I know that’s something we work on. Defense is what sets you apart.”

As for his high-profile brother not playing with him in Kenosha, Justin said with a laugh, “I played against him with the Chicago Muscle last year in the same league. e enjoy going head-to-head against each other.”

Big Tim Baines — The 6-6 26-year-old is working and going to Wisconsin-Parkside part-time to finish his degree. He played at Southwest Baptist University, Kaskakia Junior College, and Wisconsin-Parkside.

“I went up to Canada and had some opportunities up there. I played for two months and ended up getting cut,” he said. “They told me I had to drop a couple pounds so I could play a ‘3’ or a ‘4’ and be more active. So that’s what I’ve been working on. I really likes this team. I’ve been playing with them for about four years. Everybody gets the chance to show their game.”

Quiande Moore — The 6-3 guard missed the game against Holland. According to Coach Moore, “He has just incredible athleticism. That puts him head and shoulders above a lot of the guards in this league. He can jump up and grab the top of the backboard. He does all that And-1 stuff.”

Of the locals in action against Holland, it appeared Baines might have the most upside in terms of becoming a pro.

He is one of the nicest kids that I’ve been around,” said the coach. “I had to help him get meaner, because he was just too nice on the court. The game comes so natural to him, and he has so much fun with it. We took him to Louisiana where he played against Big Baby Davis. He played his butt off, and from that point on, he’s become a different player.”

The goal, of course, is for all of them to become different players ... pros instead of semi-pros.

Time will tell.

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