Ex-UNBer harbours pro dream

Ex-UNBer harbours pro dream

SAINT JOHN - A Saint John area basketball player hopes his performance at the New Hampshire Pro Exposure Basketball Combine will help extend his competitive playing days.

Former University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds' Mike Anderson would like to be suiting up with the new professional franchise in his hometown this season. The Saint John Mill Rats, of the Premier Basketball League open training camp Dec. 1 at Harbour Station and begin their regular season on Jan. 2. The team was formerly based in New Hampshire.

Former University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds guard Mike Anderson was among the 60 hopefuls that auditioned last weekend for scouts and coaches.

Over the last three years, the combine, organized and run by the Saint John Mill Rats of the Premier Basketball League, has directed players to leagues in Europe, the Philippines, Venezuela, Mexico, as well as to the National Basketball Association Development League and NBA camps.

"There was a lot of big boys and competition that you don't really see around here. That's for sure," said Anderson, a four-year standout with the Varsity Reds, who will graduate this fall.

"I feel like a held my own. ...?Once things got going and I got used to the pace of play, I was hitting my shots and I definitely had fun."

Among those attending the combine were five members of the 2009 Mill Rats roster. Forward David Cooper, who is also the club's vice-president of marketing, was joined by centre Stanley Ocitti and forwards PJ Young, Steve Deluca, and Charles Mason at the two-day camp in Derry, N.H.

Ian McCarthy, Mill Rats president and general manager, said all five have expressed an interest in attending the club's Dec. 1 training camp in Saint John, although nothing is certain.

"They could get offers to play overseas between now and then or we could draft over them.

"But it's the kind of thing where they are excited about playing at Harbour Station. They know that it's a definite upgrade from last year and that's appealing to them."

Other standouts attending the camp included Toree Morris, 6-11, 280-pound centre who spent time with the Toronto Raptors during the 2006 NBA pre-season and 6-7 Marc Egerson, who played two years with the University of Georgetown before transferring to hometown University of Delaware. Egerson had a pre-draft workout last summer with the Boston Celtics after graduating in 2009.

McCarthy said the next step is the team's open tryout camp, slated for the last week of October in Saint John.

Anderson, who graduated from Harbour View High School in 2005, plans to be among those trying out. "I'm looking to still play ball competitively, so I'm open to anything really," Anderson said.

Former University of New Brunswick Saint John guard Scott Hachey also attended the weekend combine. He was unavailable for comment.

The Mill Rats transferred from Manchester, N.H., to Saint John this summer.

After months of working on the club's business plan, McCarthy said it was refreshing to get back on the court last weekend.

"Our heads were down, David (Cooper) and I. We were all about getting the business running and meeting the sponsors and getting season's tickets rolling.

"Then we went to a (Saint John) Sea Dogs game and we were like, we're really going to be playing in Harbour Station. It was pretty cool. "Then coming back here and seeing players bouncing a ball reminds us that it's actually a basketball thing and it's really happening." The Mill Rats open their regular season versus the Quebec Kebs Jan. 2 at Harbour Station.