Semi-professional basketball is making a splash in Ashland.
The Kentucky Kings will be the Universal Basketball Association’s newest Eastern Conference team when the season begins in January 2014.
The team’s owner is Ricky Witt, also the founder of the successful Portsmouth-based Kentucky Warriors semi-pro football team. Witt has been working to watch his latest undertaking come to fruition for both fans and players.
“I like the challenge of trying to help players get somewhere else,” Witt said. “A lot of (UBA) players are going to other places, whether it’s overseas to Europe or whatever. This could be a second chance for some players.”
All home games of the 15-game regular season will be played on Saturday nights at the Ashland Armory. There is a near three-month break between the regular season and the postseason, which takes place in June.
Tryouts for the team are scheduled for Oct. 19 at 6 p.m. Registration begins at 5. You must be 18 to try out and cost is $40.
A coach has already been hired.
Tim Fraley, a former high school head coach at Greenup County and Rose Hill, will lead the Kings.
“I’ve turned down several jobs over the last couple of years, but this is different,” Fraley said. “This is different than anything the area has seen.”
Witt compiled a list of potential coaching candidates, but he contacted Fraley first. Fraley was a teacher of Witt’s at Greenup County High School.
“He was the first person I called,” Witt said. “When he said he was interested, and that he would commit 100 percent, I knew we had a coach.”
Witt is currently working on possible promotions for the season, potentially including a $1 beer night. He hopes to eventually set up plans in which portions of funds would be donated to the community and different organizations within the community.
The UBA began in 2009. It’s served as a springboard for young talent into higher profile leagues.
“Even though we are just semi-pro, the next leagues up from us are paying players $30,000 to $50,000 a year,” Fraley said.
According to Witt, Kings players will be paid — unless they can/want to be college eligible — but the amount has not yet been determined.
A few recognizable names have already expressed interest, said Fraley.
Among those are Andrew Stephens, who played at Ohio Southern, Marshall Tyson (Kentucky Christian) and Cam Miller (Wheelersburg). Perhaps the most well-known name of the bunch is Alvin Sims. Sims played at Louisville from 1993-97. The 6-foot-4 guard who attended Paris High School is now 38.
“I hear he’s still a load to handle,” Fraley said.
Fraley said that he expects fans to be entertained.
“Ricky does a real good job of promoting players and events,” Fraley said. “People will have a great time when they go see a game, as they do in Portsmouth when they see Warriors (football) games.
“This is right here in the Ashland area, where people just love basketball.”
AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.