The Swish Pro-Am League is a San Diego competitive basketball tournament.
There are collegiate athletes, graduates, players with aspirations of going pro, and former players that are just there for cardio. 13 current Aztecs are also in the league.
On June 25’s day of hoops, only two current Aztecs and one graduate were on the court. Chad Baker-Mazara, Jared Barnett, and Devin Watson.
Baker-Mazara’s game showed many aspects that Aztec fans were used to seeing last season.
Starting with the positives. He is still a spark plug even in this game played out of the limelight. His team, A.L.A was short on players. With an assortment of random teammates on his bench, Baker-Mazara played the entire game. He was running in transition, hyping up his squad, and was his shifty self with the ball in his hands.
Perhaps due to playing without a break, his offensive performance was inconsistent. He scored 19 points, the majority of which occurred in spurts. He is a rhythm player, and when he does not see shots fall, he struggles to manufacture other ways to score. By halftime, he only made two shots. He created for his teammates, but he could not find his jumper.
In the third quarter, he demonstrated the energy that made him a fan favorite at Viejas a season ago. He opened the quarter with a step-back three. Then the following possession, he immediately drove by his defender for a layup. He was aggressive the entire quarter and scored 10 in the period.
Heading into the fourth quarter, it was a tight game. Unfortunately for team A.L.A., aside from a soaring dunk in the lane, Baker-Mazara was inoffensive as he only scored three points.
Baker-Mazara’s size was a weakness in this game. He was forced to play the center position. This benefited him offensively as he beat his matchup off the dribble on multiple occasions. But defensively, there were times that he was pushed around inside. On the wing, he was still a persistent defender, but inside the paint, bigger defenders had the advantage over him. This was the same problem that left him on the bench against Creighton in the NCAA Tournament.
Overall, Baker-Mazara showed encouraging flashes. When his jumper is on target, and he is in rhythm, there are not many players better than him. But he needs to show this consistency through 40 minutes. Additionally, on an Aztec team that switches at every position, he must find a way to better defend bigger scorers. In this light, his work playing against older, bigger players at the Swish was terrific practice for the rising junior.
Barnett was the other current Aztec in action.
He only scored four points, but he showed aggression leading breaks in transition. He was shifty with the ball and had a highlight-worthy step-back jumper. At times, though, he was sloppy with the ball and made mistakes. After the game, he said he was still trying to get back into his offensive rhythm.
Watson played like his old self. He led his team, Athletes vs. ALS over A.L.A.
He scored 24 points in the contest, but he was quick to complain to the scorers table that he was going to watch the film as he was convinced he scored more. Watson appeared to seriously roll his ankle in the third quarter, but scoring was his antidote.
He dazzled with contested layups, deep threes, and drawing fouls. If there was one area he struggled with, it was the free-throw line. But when it mattered, he was clutch from the charity stripe.
The Swish League will return Thursday, June 30, where more Aztecs will most likely be in attendance. Most of the 13 rostered players in the league will not be available until Summer classes start again on July 5.