The Grand Rapids Cyclones are the latest team to join the Premier Basketball League (PBL), one of the nation’s most prolific semiprofessional basketball leagues.
The Cyclones, who played three games in last season’s shortened expansion season, had the attention of local Grand Rapids basketball fans, and hope a full season of 20 games will only mean more of the same. Cyclones fans, however, will have to wait until December before cheering on their favorite West Michigan cagers.
Not every Cyclone player is from the area, moreover, as the team’s lead decision makers just made a big splash nationally with their first ever PBL draft pick.
The Cyclones had the first pick of the 2014-2015 PBL draft, and took Ohio native Joshua Chichester with the top spot. Chichester once played forward for Hall-of-Famer Rick Pitino at Louisville and also caught passes for the Cardinals’ football team. Grand Rapids head coach Jeremiah Hamlet never second guessed the pick.
“Josh is 6’9 and extremely athletic. And he’s not just a great athlete, but a great person too. I can’t wait to work with him,” said Hamlet.
What the rest of the roster looks like remains to be seen.
“We don’t have a full roster picked out yet, but we’re going to have an open tryout and we’ve set a goal to finalize the roster by October 11th,” said Hamlet.
While Coach Hamlet may not know who will be sporting the red, white, and black just yet, he does know what intangibles he wants his players to embody.
“God willing our guys will create an identity that represents team and defense. As a new team, it’s natural that it will take some time to build a foundation. But if we represent the right things, and we’re hungry, I have all the confidence that the Grand Rapids Cyclones will be a success.”
In the appetizer that was an expansion season last winter, the Cyclones were just that — a success. The team drew great fan support, displayed impressive talent, and came away with a victory against the Lake Michigan Admirals.
The Admirals, located out of Benton Harbor, MI, will be the Cyclones’ closest opponent geographically, with the rest of the opposition spanning across the midwest.
Coach Hamlet is particularly looking forward to that inner-state matchup.
“The Admirals will without a doubt be our rival. We are definitely looking forward to playing them this year,” said Hamlet.
Cyclones fans packed out the Delta Plex in the first game against the Admirals last February. Much of that support stemmed from the natural intrigue that comes from having a new team in a big city, but it also came from a level of appreciation of what Cyclone players, coaches, and front office workers were doing in the greater Grand Rapids community.
While G.R.’s newest semi-pro team loves to win games, its purpose extends far beyond that.
“Our vision with the Cyclones is about helping the players get to the next level, but it’s also about reaching out to the community and encouraging young people all around this area to make the right choices.”
It’s not uncommon to see Cyclone players and management volunteering their time and effort into various Grand Rapids schools, social events, and kid’s camps as well as playing the game they love on the hardwood.
Though during the expansion season their home-court hardwood was in the Delta Plex, this season’s Cyclones will call the River Town Sports Complex in Grandville, MI, their home.
In just three months time the anticipation will be past and the competition will be present.
To quote the team’s slogan from just months ago…
“There’s a storm coming!”