The 2021 Swish Pro-Am Basketball League kicked off on Thursday, June 24, at Canyon Crest Academy, in North County, San Diego.
The basketball league, in its third year, is a summer showcase pairing professional and college basketball players, and given the location of the event, draws several athletes from Southern California high schools and colleges, including a usually high turnout from current San Diego State players.
There are 12 teams in the field this year, with many past and current Aztecs players scattered throughout the teams. All but one current Aztecs player (Aguek Arop) are listed on rosters on the league’s website and are expected to play at some point throughout the six-week schedule.
The games are played on Thursdays and Saturdays (maximum six games per night) and run through August 7. July 3 was an off day due to the Independence Day holiday.
The East Village Times was able to attend and catch the first four games on the schedule on Thursday, July 1. Here are some observations on the Aztecs who played in those games.
Mitchell looks to be in great shape following his Mountain West Conference Player of the Year season. He showed off his pull-up mid-range jumper several times, and it looked just as good as it did while he was wearing an Aztecs jersey the past few years. He also flashed some driving ability, taking it to the basket and finishing on some nice scoop layups, one of which ended with an “and-1.” Given scheduled workouts for the Suns and Warriors this coming week in anticipation of the NBA Draft on July 29, as reported by Adam Zagoria, this may have been Mitchell’s only appearance at the Swish Pro-Am. Mitchell is projected as a late second round to undrafted player in this year’s draft.
— KUSI Sports (@KUSISports) July 2, 2021
Pulliam, who was teamed up with Mitchell and another fellow Aztec teammate, Nathan Mensah, looked to be in cruise control in the first half, trying to get his teammates involved. In the second half, he became more aggressive. He was able to get to the rim and finish at ease and also knocked down a couple of three-pointers, the last of which was from beyond NBA 3-pointer length. Building off his great end of last season, Pulliam was clearly the best player on the court. His strong play down the stretch of the regular season and in the Mountain West Tournament reinvigorated his professional dreams, and he clearly has taken that momentum into a make-or-break offseason for his career.
— KUSI Sports (@KUSISports) July 2, 2021
As usual, Mensah was a force in the interior, blocking several shots and finishing buckets at the rim. He definitely benefited from playing with Pulliam, his pick and roll partner, for the past two years. Their chemistry was evident throughout the game. Mensah also knocked down one jumper from beyond the free-throw line, and it will be interesting to see if he will be taking these extended jumpers in his upcoming senior season. Mensah’s improvement and development in each of his first three years has been a major testament to his work ethic and should put him in line for a monster senior season and contender for first team all-Mountain West Conference center.
Bradley, the transfer from California, looked as good as advertised. He is a complete and versatile player. He showed his ability to score at all three levels. He knocked down outside shots, took his defender off the dribble multiple times and finished at the rim, and even knocked down a post-up, turn-around fade-away jumper near the baseline. He was also very aggressive, pursuing offensive rebounds throughout the game, including multiple times where he ran in from the 3-point arc on an outside shot from one of his teammates. Bradley’s nose for the ball could be utilized by the coaching staff next season as they look to build a team around the skill sets of the players next season. If they are able to control the opposition’s transition game with two defenders, this would free Bradley to hunt for offensive rebounding opportunities. Bradley is expected to be in the running for Mountain West Conference newcomer and player of the year this upcoming season.
Alert: Matt Bradley is really good. pic.twitter.com/ZnBSft5lX2
— Andre Haghverdian (@ahaghver23) July 2, 2021
In contrast to his freshman season, where he was mostly a catch and shoot player in very limited minutes, Dinwiddie’s full skill set was on display Thursday. His ball-handling shot creation and playmaking in the pick and roll stood out. On one play, he isolated, took his defender off the dribble, pulled up at the free-throw line, and knocked down a jumper. He was also very active on defense, pressuring the ball, playing passing lanes, and getting deflections, something he knows he will need to do to get playing time for the Aztecs. Given the Aztecs’ deep roster, Dinwiddie will need to show more of this versatility in practice to crack the rotation in the upcoming season. If he is able to get consistent rotation minutes, he will be able to fill the 3-point shooting void left by departing players Jordan Schakel and Terrell Gomez.
In addition to the players noted above, past Aztecs players, such as DJ Gay, Billy White, and Kameron Rooks, also played in their team’s games and made some key plays and contributions. Gay had the best performance of the three, knocking down several 3-pointers in his limited action.
The league resumes this Thursday, July 8. It will hopefully give spectators not only another chance to watch the Aztecs mentioned above but also a chance to watch the remaining Aztecs players who have yet to take the court for the Swish Pro-Am.
Full schedule and rosters can be found on the Swish Pro-Am website at https://www.sandiegoswish.net/. Admission and parking are free for spectators.