ANDERSON — Area basketball fans had a chance to hear about one of the latest developments in the sport on Sunday in Anderson. Kent Benson, Indiana’s 1973 Mr. Basketball, and others spoke about the development of the new Hoosier Hardwood Basketball Association, and people had a chance to meet a couple of the players.
Benson — the NBA’s No. 1 overall draft pick of the Milwaukee Bucks after four years and an undefeated national championship (1976) at Indiana University — and Pendleton native Bob Petty formed the semi-professional league, which will begin play in March 2021. Current plans are for teams in Pendleton, New Castle, Terre Haute and Bedford.
“We chose Pendleton because of the tremendous amount of talent and ability here,” Benson said during a press conference at Greek’s Pizzeria. “These are first-class individuals who carry themselves in a professional manner both on and off the court.”
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Kellen Dunham — the 6’ 5” 2012 Pendleton Heights graduate who played for Butler University and is now set to play for the HHBA’s Pendleton Legends — was on hand to answer questions and meet people.
Dunham, who is married and lives in Irvington, has NBA G-League experience with the Capital City Go-Go, which is affiliated with the Washington Wizards.
“I’m looking forward to serving the community and young kids,” Dunham said. “I have always looked up to Kent.”
Seven-foot Asauhn Tatum of Anderson, also set to join the Pendleton Legends, was there, too.
Tatum graduated from Highland in 2009 and attended Auburn University in Alabama.
He earned degrees in public administration and marketing while playing basketball there. He’s played six seasons in the NBA G-League, including affiliates of the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards.
“I am grateful for this opportunity,” Tatum said.
Aaron Larson, who lives in Pendleton and is an assistant basketball coach at Taylor University, was unable to be present but will be playing on the team.
Vice President of Community Relations Gary Montgomery is in charge of generating fan base for the new league. He said he wants this to be something to be proud of in the community.
“Plans are to be in the schools, talking to students, reading to them and being a good role model for them,” he said.
He said by doing this during the week, the children will be more excited about seeing the games on the weekends.
“We want to work hand in glove with the schools and the community,” Montgomery said.
Benson said they have good cooperation with the school in Pendleton, thanking the Superintendent Mark Hall.
The Pendleton Legends, sporting silver and orange uniforms, will practice in the gym at the Pendleton Intermediate School building.
The league is still in the early stages and is looking for sponsors and team owners.
Benson thanked Clay Sexton, owner of Greek’s Pizzeria for his support.
A combine is planned from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19, at New Castle Middle School, 601 Parkview Drive, New Castle.
Each team consists of eight paid and four practice players. Paid players will earn between $500 and $2,500 per month.
The season will last from March to May, with playoffs in June.