ELKHART — After a year's hiatus, the Community Basketball League will have a presence in Elkhart again, only this time that presence is a step up competitively — a team from Elkhart playing against teams from other cities on what's described as a semi-pro level.
The Elkhart Evolution make their CBL Exposure League debut Saturday, May 10, when they host the Chicago Wind in a 7 p.m. game at Concord Junior High School.
Tickets are $10 at the gate, or $5 if purchased online.
Elkhart Evolution Roster
No. Player Ht. Wt.
1 Andy Harris 5-9 180
2 Dannie Parker 6-4 255
3 Daniel Butler 6-6 220
4 Andy Windbigler 6-3 210
5 Sean Cooper 6-0 185
6 Lamar Pittman 6-3 230
7 Jyrron Cooper 6-4 195
8 Michael Conard 6-5 185
9 Albert White 6-2 215
10 Jamar Johnson 6-0 170
11 Rodney Lee 6-1 170
12 Akeem Peters 6-2 190
13 Mike Koronkiewicz 6-6 225
14 Terry Hill 6-2 175
About half the players on the Evolution roster are from Elkhart. Most of the others are from surrounding communities. The team's roster includes both players who are of traditional college age and those who have completed college basketball careers.
"I think we have a good group that's going to be competitive and fun to watch," said Brian Pearison, owner and head coach of the Evolution.
CBL Exposure League players, according to CBL chief commissioner and Elkhart native Jamar Johnson, participate for a variety of reasons, including exposure to college or pro teams, as well as simply love of the game.
Players are not paid, but some travel expenses are covered depending upon how many tickets are sold. Players are allowed to be sponsored individually.
Pearison said he has met with Elkhart mayor Dick Moore and executive assistant Arvis Dawson about the Evolution, and "the city wants to get behind us."
"We've had talks about using North Side Gym for games and the Tolson Center for practices," Pearison said. "I think they would like to see some form of pro basketball come back to Elkhart."
The Elkhart Express were an International Basketball League team that played during summers at North Side from 2006 to 2008, winning IBL titles their first two seasons, and ranking among the nation's leaders in minor league basketball attendance each year, but they folded for financial reasons.
Pearison's team doesn't possess that caliber of players, nor is he expecting a similar level of following immediately, but he cites the Express as an example of Elkhart's affinity for basketball.
Johnson, the former Concord High great who oversees Community Basketball League entries around the country, started a league in Elkhart in 2009.
Pearison later purchased the local league, but it shut down after the summer of 2012 because "we weren't making any money."
The CBL Exposure League, meanwhile, has grown from six to 32 teams nationwide in the last three years, according to Johnson, including the South Bend Magicians.
The Evolution have not set most of their potential schedule for this season. They are slated to compete in CBL Shootouts June 20-22 in Columbia, S.C., and July 25-27 in San Antonio, and have a tentative home date July 19 against San Antonio at a site to be determined.
They also are eligible to qualify for the playoffs, Aug. 21-24 in Phoenix. Teams qualify based on a combination of won-loss record and their business operations, according to Johnson.
The Evolution are planning an introductory community outreach for 8:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday at the Faith Mission of Elkhart.