Do you know a talented basketball player in the Knoxville area?
Former Tennessee guard Bobby Maze wants to know. He’s got big plans for his up-and-coming “B. Maze Elite” summer basketball teams.
“I’m trying to get kids from all these small different towns and put them on one team,” Maze said Tuesday afternoon. “Now you can compete with some of these teams. But you have to find them. That’s the hard part.”
The sounds of squeaking sneakers and screeching whistles interrupted the phone call. Maze’s hunt is already in motion. He was at Knoxville Christian School for his skills camp on Tuesday, and will be back Wednesday and Thursday. Grades 3-7 play from noon to 3 p.m. Grades 8-12 play from 4 to 7. A two-day registration costs $100.
Maze hopes the skills camp leads him to players for his three teams: 10-and-under, 12-and-under and 17-and-under. He just weathered his first season on the summer basketball circuit — his teams made trips to South Carolina, Atlanta, Virginia Beach — and he learned a lot along the way.
There were high points. Oak Ridge star guard Tee Higgins, known more for his skills on the football field, got some much-needed exposure in front of Division I basketball coaches as a member of the 17-and-under team. The 10-and-under team recently won a national tournament. And discussions for a shoe sponsorship are in the works.
But Maze wants more.
“One thing I learned is that I want to get some more players,” he said. “I need to get more talent. And I believe Knoxville has good players … There is a lot of talent in this area, but they’ve never played on a high level (in summer basketball). You can average 40 per game at Austin-East and no one sees. But if you score 12 against Chris Paul’s All-Stars, people see it. That’s where the college coaches are. I want to help the kids here get an opportunity.”