ROANOKE, Va. – In and around Southwest Virginia, we don't have to look far for premium basketball talent.
From the high school level to local colleges, there are plenty opportunities to excel. But now one group is offering an opportunity to play at the professional level.
"The vision and idea has been brewing for a few years now," said team President Jeff Garner.
The 1970s was the last time a team from the American Basketball Association, better known as the ABA, played in the Star City. But that will soon change with the formation of the Roanoke Rising Stars.
"As folks we're always trying to rise, we're trying to better ourselves, and then being that we're on the rise and we're from the Star City, it just kind of joined together," said coach Eric Walker.
"We want folks that have been legendary here in the 540, and I think they play for a different reason."
Take, for example, Cameron Jones and Amin Abuhawwas. The two played high school basketball in the area before going to play pro ball overseas. Now that the Rising Stars are coming aboard, it gives them a chance to perhaps play at home.
"We talked about it and, you know, I told him I'd give it some thought and, you know, and I see where he's going with it and I like what he's doing," Jones said.
"I like what he's doing with it and in the community ... I think it's big."
"There's a lot of talent in the area that, you know, maybe hasn't panned out because of school or family issues or something," Abuhawwas said.
The idea is not just to gather a group of talented basketball players. The mission of the Rising Stars is to be out in the community, spreading positivity and helping reduce crime.
"We're going to definitely have that spiritual foundation, number one. We're going to try to make followers, we're trying to get the ones that are lost to be found," said coach Walker.
General Manager Kevin Stuart added, "I feel like there's a need for it, there's definitely a want for it -- involving the Bible and faith and basketball -- targeting the group of kids between 15 and 21."
The team will hold its first tryouts on Sunday, with the goal of playing games as early as the end of this year.
"Not only a professional basketball team in the Roanoke Valley but, even more significantly, to use it as a vehicle to make an impact for change," said Jeff Garner.
For tryout registration, click here.