THE BLOG
02/05/2013 04:15 pm ET | Updated Apr 07, 2013

Hoop Dreams Abound in Inaugural ABL Season

The 1994 documentary Hoop Dreams followed the journeys of two Chicago teenagers in their attempt to fulfill professional basketball aspirations. Arthur Agee from the West Garfield Park section of Chicago's Westside and William Gates from the Cabrini Green Housing Project exhibited talent, perseverance, and drive ultimately parlaying their on the court exploits into college basketball scholarships. In the documentary, both Agee and Gates idolize and emulate Chicago high school basketball legend and NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas. Their high school careers both began making the same trek from inner city Chicago to suburban Westchester's St. Joseph High School.

Nineteen years later the characters and storyline have changed but the dream for both coaches are players remains the same in the inaugural season of the American Basketball League (ABL). The ABL is the first professional basketball league in the United States to play FIBA rules with the aim of placing players on teams of international professional leagues. The nephew of Isiah Thomas, Ashanti Burnette, and his former Florida International University (FIU) Assistant Coach William Eddie; coach the Fort Lauderdale Sharks, one of the league teams. The Sharks feature standout players such as Stan Gaines 6'8" forward from Seton Hall and Anthony Brown, a 6'9" forward from Central Oklahoma, who grabbed 23 rebounds in the Sharks home opener.

Burnette stated that "our goal is not to change the player's games but to add more too it. Their talents have gone unseen and may have been overlooked by other professional leagues but the ABL will give them the opportunity to not only improve their game but also be exposed in the United States but mainly focusing on International soil.The league as a whole consists of 12 teams with six being in the state of Florida and six located in Texas. There is no shortage of talent in the new league with former college standouts like 7'0" centers Charles Okwandu and Anwar Ferguson from University of Connecticut and the University of Houston respectively. The league offers area fans an exciting entertainment option and players an opportunity to continue to pursue their dreams of furthering their basketball aspirations.