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South Bend hoops legend gives local athletes a pro tryout

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Basketball and Indiana. It's no surprise to hear the two linked.

But Saturday, the newest professional basketball league, called The Basketball League, gave local athletes a shot because the man who runs it has roots right here in South Bend.

“I graduated from high school when I was 18 years old and for 40 years I haven’t lived at home,” said Dave Magley, the 1978 Indiana Mr. Basketball winner for South Bend LaSalle. “Our class reunion is in about a month, and I’m the guy who’s most hype of everybody because I don’t get to see everybody.”

After playing college ball at Kansas and spending time in the NBA, Magley has stayed in the sport though his playing days are in the past.

He’s now known for holding executive roles in multiple hoops leagues over the years, and after leaving his position as commissioner for Canada’s NBL last summer, Magley is now running TBL as president.

And he’s confident in its standing.

“If we were in any other country in the world, it wouldn’t be ‘minor-‘ or ‘semi-‘, it would be ‘professional’ because we pay our guys,” he said. “We paid out over a million dollars last year to about 140 kids that wouldn’t have gotten paid that to begin with. Beyond that, they get bigger jobs or they impact down.”

That’s where Saturday’s return to South Bend comes into play.

Dozens of local players visited IUSB to impress decision makers from several teams in the first of many combine tryouts around the country.

“It gives us a chance to evaluate players all across the nation,” said Martin Benders, there to represent the newly-formed Tampa Bay Titans. “[It’s] giving these guys a chance to get back out, keep their goals, and keep striving to get to the NBA level or the next level – whichever that may be.”

But to do that, the guys at these combines have to show they can fit into whichever role is needed.

“Everybody wants to show you they’re superstars,” said Magley, a member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. “Quite frankly, the combine guys are role players. So how do you blend? How do you do what you’re supposed to do?

“You have to recognize that I’m not looking for a star. I’m looking for a guy that fits on my team that’s a great kid. From there, you can build yourself into a star.”

“[The coaches are] looking for those guys that are really going to give everything they have on the court,” Benders added, “because the only way you’re going to get any further than here is to give it everything you have.”

Magley said he was impressed with the talent at the South Bend combine, which gathered players from several surrounding Midwest cities.

Even more impressive, though, was the facility that housed them at IUSB. And that spurred more thought into an already-forming dream for the former LaSalle star.

“I really want to bring a team to South Bend,” he said. “I’m looking at this venue, and with 1600 seats, if you sell it out you can make some money for that owner. We’re seriously looking at a team in South Bend, Mishawaka, Elkhart, Gary or the East Chicago area. We’d like to have two or three teams through here and it could be pretty good.”

But further expansion comes later. For now, the focus is building the rosters of current teams and keeping dreams alive for a few deserving players.

“Maybe their whole world changes,” Magley said, “Then generationally we’ve taken them down a different path. So we think we can do things that are different and help.”

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