A new minor league basketball team will begin playing its home games next week at Russellville High School’s Jim Young Gymnasium.
The Bowling Green Hornets, a new team in a new league, will be playing all of its six home games here in Russellville after since the independent school system agreed to allow them to use their facility.
“They have been very receptive to us and we are very appreciative of that,”said team owner/general manager Waseem Moorad.
The first game will be on Friday, April 26 at 7 p.m. against the Dayton Airstrikers.
The Hornets will play in a new startup league - the Central Basketball League (CBL) - along with four other teams, the Middle Tennessee Storm, the River City Panthers from Peoria, Ill., the St. Louis Hawks and the Airstrikers.
“We had a lot of applications to join the league from several other teams, but we wanted to make sure that we start off with some very strong financially stable teams,” Moorad said. “This isn’t going to be as much about quantity as it is quality.”
In addition to playing at RHS, the Hornets will have other strong Russellville ties as well.
Russellville native Otis Key will be coaching the team and former RHS standouts Tony Key and Maurice “Squeaky” Hampton will be two of the key players. Hampton is currently playing with another professional team in Israel, but will be joining the Hornets next month when he is finished with that season.
A third top player for the team will be former University of Kentucky point guard Brandon Stockton from Glasgow.
If this team sounds familiar - that’s because it probably is.
The core of the team will be made up of former players for the Kentucky Bisons, a now defunct minor league basketball team that had good success on the court a few years back, but folded because of poor management.
“We wanted this to be a revival with a new owner under a new franchise name,” Moorad said. “But the team is going to have the same coach and a lot of the same players.”
The Bisons played in the ABA in 2009 and 2010 and were coached by Otis Key, who was named the league’s coach of the year.
Moorad said the Hornets will be much more soundly managed and will learn from the mistakes of the Bisons.
“One of the biggest problems they had was that they were based in Bowling Green, but played their games in Owensboro,” Moorad said.
That’s why he wanted to keep the games here in south central Kentucky.
Moorad said he wants to give back to the Russellville school system and community for being the host of his team. Some of his plans for doing that include buying new uniforms for the RHS boys’ and girls’ basketball teams, improving the gym’s concession stand area and hiring local students to work at the games.
He also wants the Hornets to help its players move on to bigger and better things.
“We want to be a stepping stone to get these players into other professional leagues either overseason or like in the NBA Developmental League,” Moorad said.
Tickets for the games will be $6 for students and $9 for adults at the door, but they can be purchased at discount prices online through the league website, www.centralbasketballleague.com.