Bellingham Slam point guard Taylor Stafford works against a defender during the 2017 Crawsover Seattle Pro-Am League season.
PHOTO: Jon Bergman courtesy of the Bellingham Slam.
Bellingham Slam Open Crawsover Pro-Am League this Weekend with Loaded Roster
July 6, 2018
The Bellingham Slam begin season number three in The Crawsover Seattle Pro-Am League this weekend with a new-look roster. Bellingham will play a total of two games at the Royal Brougham Pavilion on the campus of Seattle Pacific University Saturday and Sunday.
The Slam, who went 5-and-4 last season and falling in the quarterfinals of the playoffs, will enter this season with a loaded squad. The 14-man roster put together by General Manager/Co-Coach Kip Leonetti includes talent spanning the gap between the NBA and prep levels.
"The talent pool for this league just gets better and better," said Leonetti. "We're excited to have some NBA representation on our roster this summer."
Chicago Bulls swingman Zach LaVine is joining the Slam to play in the league created by fellow NBA player Jamal Crawford. LaVine, the former Bothell High School star and Washington State Mr. Baketball, is currently a restricted free agent. He averaged 16.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3 assists In 24 games with the Bulls this past season.
Leonetti says adding LaVine to his already talented team takes the Slam to another level. "His game couldn't be more tailored for the pro-am style. I'm just imagining these alley-opp dunks he's going to come up with this summer."
The GM says he's picturing a frequent connection between LaVine and former WWU star point guard Taylor Stafford.
Seven former or current Western Washington University players dominate the roster. Co-Coach Tyler Amaya can draw from a strong group of fellow Vikings. Stafford, the 2017 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the year, is back. 2017-2018 WWU starting big men Deandre Dixon and Logan Schilder will play in the league for the first time. Other Vikings include 3-time IBL champion Mo Anderson, 2012 NCAA D-2 national champ Paul Jones and Nooksack Valley native Kyle Impero.
There's more local flavor for the Slam. Whatcom Community College guard Trazil Lane returns. The former Lummi Nation High School star is playing his second year in the league. Lynden Christian forward Cole Bajema is the lone prep player on the squad. He was named the 1A Boys State Player of the Year after helping lead the Lyncs to a state championship during his junior campaign.
"That's one of the things that I take pride in putting together these rosters is to take the time to highlight the up and coming talent here in Whatcom County and kind of showcase them to the folks at the Seattle Pro-Am," said Leonetti. "When it comes to a kid like Cole Bajema, I don't think there is a better basketball talent at his age in the county right now."
Bellingham plays the Vancouver Battle Saturday at 12:00pm and the Kitsap Admirals Sunday at 3:00pm. Admission for all games is free. The regular season runs through mid-August with the postseason beginning August 19th.
- Doug Lange
Lynden Christian forward Cole Bajema at the 2017-2018 1A State Tournament. PHOTO: Doug Lange