Story by Demarcus Green
Former local basketball standout JaQuez Motley returned to his former basketball gym at Faith Baptist Christian Academy, in the small town of Ludowici, where folks gathered to encourage a newly formed league made up of several local high profile basketball players.
The league, which started playing June 5 and will continue until Aug. 5, promises live action and skilled players every Saturday from 2 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. Each Saturday will offer various teams in action.
Motley, who organized the league, was a standout at Faith Baptist and later Coker College. He went on to play in several pro leagues after college and has now banded together several other high-profile players from the surrounding area.
Seen at the gym was former NBA player Jordan McRae. McRae still plays professionally, most recently for the Beijing Ducks of the Chinese Basketball Association. He played college basketball for the Tennessee Volunteers, and was drafted 58th overall in the 2014 NBA draft, by the San Antonio Spurs. He won a Championship ring during his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Also spotted was hopeful NBA draft recruit Davion Mitchell who helped the Baylor Bears win NCAA men’s basketball tournament this past season.
Motley said getting the players together was a breeze. “It was a pretty easy process because I know a lot of the guys,” he said. “Just getting it out there with the promotions. Once the promotion got out there it kind of handled itself.”
Liberty and Long County has produced several high-profile players like Motley, McRae, Mitchell, JJ Frazier, who played for the University of Georgia, Freddie McSwain Jr., who played for Indiana, Jordan Johnson, DJ Felder, Rion Brown, Jimmy Bacon and many more.
Motley also explained the importance the games meant for the community. “The impact was actually better than I anticipated,” he said. “But I think because of everything that’s been going on. A lot of people are just happy to be able see basketball again. Like I said, once I promoted it and the city seen it. They ran right behind it and it was a good turn out.”
The league is called the Gold Elite and the players played against each other wearing different colored jerseys. One team wore white and blue jerseys while the other team wore blue and gold jerseys. They rivaled in competition against one another for a good energetic game. In addition to their games other teams played against each other during the event.
Alonze Gardner who participated in a game said sports and community mean a lot to him.
“Sports has changed my life a lot,” he said. “Growing up I came from Chicago and we don’t really have a lot of things and somewhere like this. Where we can have something to let out all our frustrations. Basketball is something where you can really express yourself. Let’s you be yourself and get away from all the problems you have. To just come out here and do what you love to do.”
Gardner continued by saying, “The community’s support is so important because this is where some people’s lives start. Some people don’t have a community to have teams like this. To have the whole city out here having fun, enjoying each other, and pretty much playing the sport.”
Audience member Talexia Mullins offered a humorous and insightful opinion of the games she attended so far. “The basketball games honestly contribute a big representation to the community’s togetherness and players’ passion,” she said. “After COVID-19 it’s really needed. Which really shines light on the community we know as family. I also enjoy the chili cheese fries because they’re so good.”
Small towns may seem small yet they stick together always. Success can be golden just like the elites’ motivation and drive.
Stewartville won against SGA Ballers 76-72
Scott’s All-Stars beat Team Shootout 94-92
Gold Elite defeated No Limit DC 95-87
No Mercy beat 9Twelve 96-80
Patty Leon contributed to this report