As longtime ESPN announcer Chris Berman would say, get ready for some prime time.
Iowa's summer basketball league, called Prime Time League (PTL), is almost ready to begin. Prime Time is a place for high school, college and professional players around the state to hone their skills in preparation for the season.
Iowa City attorney Randy Larson started the league 24 years ago. Larson, who also coaches Iowa City Regina boys' basketball, is League Director.
Over the past two decades, several great Iowa basketball greats have participated in Prime Time.
Former Hawkeye player and current Iowa Basketball Video Coordinator Ryan Bowen has first-hand experience with PTL.
"There is nobody that understands the benefits of Prime Time more than Ryan Bowen," Larson recently told the Iowa City Press Citizen . "He excelled at it. The last two years [he played], he won championships."
Another former Hawkeye standout, Kenyon Murray , describes the PTL as a forum for the past, current, and future players to interact with each other as well as fans.
"I personally think that is shows both strengths and weaknesses of each player and allows the fans to know what they can expect from players as they enter the preseason workouts," Murray explained in a recent email.
Murray has been involved in PTL in a few different ways over the years, both as a player and a coach, but his playing days ended about two years ago. He still enjoys the league and has fond memories of it.
"I have to say that my favorite PTL player was Ricky Davis because I played two years with him when he was just a sophomore/junior in high school. He was by far the most electrifying high school player that I have seen come through the PTL."
A few of Iowa's incoming recruits hope to electrify the coaches and fans, like Davis did.
Incoming recruits Zach McCabe, Devyn Marble, and Melsahn Basabe, as well as walk-ons Darius Stokes and Stephen McCarty are all expected to take part in the league this year.
Prime Time had decided to go down to four teams this year, to take advantage of the rare circumstance of both UNI and Iowa having fewer than nine players returning. However, due to a recent string of announced walk-ons for Iowa, not to mention the rumored recent signing of Juco transfer Bruce Cartwright, Larson has opted to go with six teams.
This will be Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery's first year with Prime Time, and he should have six or seven returning players competing. The league will give McCaffery a good look at how well the new players mix with the old.
Former Northern Iowa guard Ali Farokhmanesh is also said to be playing in the PTL this summer. Farokhmanesh helped lead the Panthers to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 in March and dazzled the country with his three-point shooting.
Tryouts are held at the University of Iowa's Fieldhouse Gym on Monday, June 7. PTL games will start June 15 at the North Liberty Community Center in North Liberty, a town just north of Iowa City.