Jul 17, 2016 at 9:10 pm | Print View
CEDAR FALLS — In a league known for questionable-at-best defense, three points on 1-of-2 shooting wouldn’t normally catch the eye of many players, fans or coaches.
The Prime Time League allows Northern Iowa, Iowa, and former high school standouts turned college players to compete against each other all summer.
This season, there is a high school player among the ranks. And though he may be physically overmatched on the floor, he’s relishing his opportunity to play against them.
“My head coach talked to me about playing in it,” said Austin Ash, a senior at Mount Vernon. “It sounded like it’d be a good idea playing with these college guys. It’s a good experience for me.”
The 6-foot-2 guard is going up against longer and taller players like Iowa’s Dom Uhl, but also quick players like UNI guard Juwan McCloud.
He guards them all with the same tenacity, and he’s a solid 3-point shooter.
“I know I can hang with anybody,” Ash said. “They might be bigger or stronger or faster but I know I can hang with anybody.”
Ash saw limited playing time Sunday, though his team’s game came down to the final minutes. He plays alongside Nicholas Baer and Jordan Bohannon of Iowa, and Bennet Koch and Spencer Haldeman of UNI. Darius Stokes, and ex-Iowa player and European pro, is also on Ash’s team.
The Mustangs went 16-8 last season, losing to Solon in a Class 3A substate final. Ash averaged 16.0 points per game, with 60 3-pointers (42.6 3-point percentage) to go with 60 assists and 31 steals.
The experience offered in the Prime Time League is unique, said Randy Larson, Ash’s PTL coach, league commissioner and former Iowa City Regina Coach. Ash is also unique in participating in the league.
“The AAU basketball circuit conflicts, and the AAU coaches just won’t let their players play. That’s all there is too it,” Larson said. “Players are reluctant to tell their AAU team that they’re going to miss some games to play in our games, so that’s really all there is to it.
“He’s one of the rare guys who understands what we do can be more beneficial.”
Ash plays with the Iowa Barnstormers AAU basketball team as well and has a scholarship offer to play basketball at Clarke University in Dubuque.
But the Prime Time League has offered Ash a different opportunity.
“I knew it was going to be tough,” Ash said. “But you make adjustments and come back better the next year.”