Players ready to 'rock and roll' at hoops summer event

Photo by John Millikan

Photo by John Millikan

ALBANY -- Fred Pickett has thought about walking away, but he just can't do it.

"It just gets better and better,'' said Pickett, who started the Battle of the South Basketball Tournament 15 years ago. "I have thought about not doing it, but the tournament is so good, and it's gotten better every year.''

And this year?

"Oh, we're ready to rock and roll,'' Pickett said. "We've really got some great basketball this year. You don't get to see this kind of talent anywhere in the south for free.''

It is free admission, and the two-day tournament starts at 9 a.m. Saturday at Darton College and ends with a championship game at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Pickett expects teams from as far away as Philadelphia to play in the 15th annual Battle of the South and believes basketball fans will love the action.

"We're expecting players from the NBA and some players from the NFL to play this year,'' Pickett said. "And there will be lots of college players who will be here. It gives the college players a chance to tighten up on their skills.''

Pickett also expects good crowds for the game. He is bringing in 24 teams, including Team Duvall from Jacksonville Fla., which has won the last two Battle of the South titles.

"The teams are put together for this kind of tournament,'' Pickett said. "We start getting calls about next year's tournament right after this year's tournament ends. It's been a blessing. We started with nine teams (15 years ago) and now we have 24 teams.''

It has become an Albany tradition, a staple in the Good Life City -- summer hoops in a city that loves basketball.

"The public has been very supportive of the tournament, and I have to thank Johnny Litman of J.L. Litman Funeral Homes for his support. He has been supporting us for years,'' Pickett said.