Men’s basketball team to compete in Atlanta

Published 7:15 pm Wednesday, March 17, 2010

When you play your last game on a high school court, that doesn’t mean the dream is over.

Jemison resident and Maplesville native Shunn Bailey played basketball in high school and for a year at Concordia College in Selma. After that, his days of playing roundball at the next level seemed all but over.

Bailey is an assistant coach for the Billingsley High School boys varsity team and plays pick-up games wherever he can find them. By forging friendships on and off the court with various athletes throughout the state, Bailey saw an opportunity to start his own team that would compete in any local, regional or national tournament.

He recently formed the Alabama All Stars, a mash-up of 15 players from several different towns across the state.

The All Stars will travel to Atlanta this weekend to play in the Hoop It Up for Homeless tournament, featuring several teams from the Southeast.

Bailey’s team recently won the Shelby County YMCA adult men’s league in Pelham a month ago.

This weekend will mark the first time they travel to play out of the state. Eight players will make the trip.

Normally, the tournament rewards its winners with trophies, but this year the winners will split a $1,500 cash prize, rounding out to $187.50 apiece if the All Stars were to win.

The entry fee is $200 and also requires each player to donate a shirt, pair of pants and pair of shoes to benefit those in need.

Bailey said he has time to play at least once a week, whether it’s a league tournament or pick-up games at YMCAs in Shelby County and Birmingham. The All Stars will also travel to Louisiana for an upcoming tournament.

The team requires members to be 16 or older.

Everyone on the team played high school basketball and a few at college. It took Bailey nearly two months to assemble the team. He’d travel to gyms, play with several people and approach those whose abilities he felt met the team’s criteria.

The team has to find time to squeeze in practice, given several of the players work full-time jobs. Mostly, they practice on an outdoor court in Calera Park on Wednesdays or weekends. Bailey said finding a neutral court for the scattered teammates is a challenge.

For most players, the team serves as a perfect way to stay in good physical shape as well as quench their thirst for competition. Bailey plays for health reasons along with a shared passion for the game they all grew up loving.

“I think all of us have a good chemistry on and off the court,” he said. “We all love the game. We had dreams of playing after high school like everyone else. This is my third attempt to put a team together. It’s the one that’s stayed together the longest.”

Age is nothing but a number for the All Stars. The team spans many years, featuring players both young and, well, not as young.

As long as they can play and are good teammates, coach Bailey doesn’t discriminate.

“We’re fairly young, but we’ve got some older guys who play like they’re young,” he said. “They’re really aggressive. Everyone can shoot and play defense. We’re a run-and-gun type of offense and are defensive-minded.”

The Alabama All Stars are comprised of Bailey, James Murphy, Lacy McClung, Theo Hawthorne, Undra Rush, Jonathan Calloway, Joe-Joe Ward, Oneal Hudson, Vincent Olanrewaju, Christian Briscoe, Eddie Hubbard, Kenny Andrews, Demetrius Feetion, Johnny Watters and David Calloway.