The Prime Time Players are four-time league champions, and looking to make their name on a national scale this year.
While basketball fans across the country are marveling at the fast-paced play and long-distance shooting of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, there is a local team playing a similar style and having their own success.
The Prime Time Players are a minor league basketball team based in Fort Mill. They play at a breakneck pace and have won three consecutive minor league championships in the Tobacco Road Basketball League and last year claimed the East Coast Basketball League title in their first year in the league.
“There are games that we make 30 3-pointers and last year we scored 189 and 181 points in back-to-back weeks,” said coach and General Manager Chris Thomas.
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“If you’ve been watching Golden State, we’ve been doing what they’re doing long before they started doing what they’re doing. We’re up and down the floor, all of our big men are athletic and our guards can shoot. We’ve got a bunch of high-scoring guys and a bunch of guys who can get up and down the floor and we can play defense, too. It’s basically a mini NBA game but in a smaller arena.”
With their fast-paced style the team advanced to the pinnacle of the sport last year in The Basketball Tournament, which was held in Chicago and attracted NBA Development League teams and a number of top-notch minor league teams from around the country.
The Prime Time Players got a No. 8 seed and a first-round bye and were up late on former Kansas Jayhawk star Josh Shelby’s No. 1 seeded team before falling by one point. They advanced one game away from playing for $1 million, but will be a factor in this year’s tournament, which has upped its purse to $2 million and will have regional rounds in Charlotte beginning July 9.
“It will be some pressure on us, but it will be a great thing, too, because I don’t think we’re going to lose in Charlotte,” said Thomas, who is a CMC machinist for a molding company and assistant director at the Baxter YMCA and also funds most of the team’s expense.
“The biggest thing for our success is that we’ve stayed together. Our first year we had a 16-man roster, but we still have 13 of those same players five years later.”
And it’s a lot of guys who can play.
Chris Moore has been named first team all-league three years in a row and has won the USbasket.com Player of The Year three straight seasons, including last year. He has led the league in both scoring and assists twice in the last three years, and last season averaged 26.5 points and 10.4 assists and won the 3-point shootout at the all-star game.
Terell Smith won the Tabetha Berry Memorial League MVP and was second in the league at 25.7 points and 8.3 assists and led the league with 3.5 steals. Smith is a four-time all-league player and was the 2015 all-star game MVP.
Brian Mobley was named second team all-league and was a 2015 all-star who averaged 21.7 points and 6.7 rebounds.
Donald Rutherford was 2015 ECBL Finals MVP and will be returning to the team the first week of May after averaging 21 points and 7.6 rebounds.
Danny Sanders brings instant offense to the team. Sanders averaged 17 points and six rebounds in his first season with the team last year, and last season hit 12 3-pointers in one quarter during a game.
Victor Street Jr. returns as team captain and has been an all-league player and top three in assists all four seasons he’s been on the team.
Pierre Stines and Eric Mann are top defenders and are experienced players and vocal leaders.
Thomas Pfaff and James Dillard are four-year starters returning with good experience.
James Dillard is a talented 6-foot-6 forward and rounds out the roster with 6-foot-5 guard Sean Barnette, who will rejoin the team after he returns from Romania.
With the collection of talent and leadership on this year’s team and their familiarity with each other, Thomas is expecting to run his team’s collection of titles to five and again be one of the team’s capable of winning the $2 million tournament.
“I do this for the competitive nature of it and for the fun of it,” Thomas said.
“I wrestled and played football in high school and I played on the team for years, but realized if we wanted to win the best thing for me would be to go to the bench and take over the coaching.
“It’s a way for me to keep competing. I really enjoy the competition and I feel like with the guys we’ve put together we can compete with anybody.”
Rock Hill SC
Johnson C Smith
Rock Hill SC
Johnson C Smith
Rock Hill SC