The newest basketball team in town is the Fort Wayne Flite, and the goal is to help some potential local pro players take flight.
Comprised of former Fort Wayne prep and college players and coached by former Indiana University guard Rod Wilmont, the Flite is part of the Central Basketball Association. The seven-team league intends to help young players build toward playing professionally overseas or possibly in the NBA Development League.
The Flite will play a 10-game season, beginning with a game against the River City Panthers of Peoria, Ill., at 2 p.m. Sunday at The Summit (formerly Taylor University),1025 West Rudisill Blvd. Admission is $2.
“It's an exposure program,” said Bennie Lewis, the team's main contact person. “These are good basketball players, but they don't have agents or they're changing agents and we're trying to help them to find some opportunities.”
Lewis, who works with Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation, has helped guide local young basketball players for years, including those who played in the department's Adult ProAm Basketball League. Lewis' son, also named Bennie, played this season with the Mad Ants before being released and returning to play in Australia.
Wilmont, an assistant boys basketball coach at Canterbury High School the last two seasons, should provide good insight for players navigating a potential pro career. Among his stops as a pro was a stint with the Mad Ants.
“All of Rod's experience can really help these players,” Lewis said. “He'll not only be a coach, but a mentor to them. I think it'll be a real good program.”
Among the players are former North Side and Elmhurst standout Antonio Wilson, former Elmhurst players Evan Cleveland and Pervis Hall and former North Side player Reggie Lytle.
Other players are Montique Taylor, Chase Sander, Ronald Lucas, Wadner Joseph, Anthony Johnson, James Humphrey, Richard England, Jamaal Elliott and Dazron Booker.
The players are not paid, although sponsorships help to cover the team's expenses, Lewis said.
“These are guys people grew up watching in high school and they still live here,” Lewis said. “Some of them played college basketball for a year or two and got out of it. This is an opportunity for them to play and to help them move forward.”
The other teams joining Fort Wayne and River City in the league are the Bowling Green (Ky.) Hornets, Chattanooga Rail, Memphis Soul Kings, Middle Tennessee (Nashville) Storm and St. Louis Hawks.
The Flite will play next season in the renovated McMillen Park Community Center, Lewis said.
“Our goal is to give local players an opportunity to have fresh statistics, play good competition and move up to overseas or another opportunity,” Lewis said.
The Flite's and other teams' schedules and information can be found at www.playcba.com.