Local notebook: Basketball talent heads overseas

Aug. 8—With the onset of fall comes the return of so many sports, and European basketball might not be at the forefront of anyone’s mind here in Bakersfield. But teams across the continent are drawing on local talent to fill their rosters as the season approaches.

Many recent Cal State Bakersfield standouts are signing their first professional contracts. After Justin McCall signed to play in Poland last month, fellow 2021-22 men’s basketball team leader Justin Edler-Davis inked a pro contract of his own to join SC Lusitânia, the Portuguese club announced last week. Former Roadrunners Taze Moore (BG Göttingen, in Germany) and Czar Perry (Zirve Astara, in Azerbaijan), who each transferred for their final years of collegiate eligibility, are also headed overseas, after Moore made four appearances for the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA Summer League.

On the women’s side, guard Andie Easley has decided to continue pursuing basketball after a seven-year, three-school college career. The outside shooter is signing with Serbian club ZKK Kraljevo.

Multiple veteran players with Bakersfield connections continue to thrive overseas as well. Another CSUB product, Tyrell Corbin, is moving from the nation of Georgia, where he played for Mega Tbilisi during the 2021-22 season, to Slovakia to join BKM Lučenec.

Arik Smith, the 2011 Bakersfield High graduate who has parlayed his NCAA Division III success into seven-plus years in international basketball, also has a new home. Telenet Giants Antwerp announced Friday that they had signed Smith, bringing him back to Belgium, where — as noted by local sports writer Adam Waybright, who has avidly cataloged these overseas transactions — he previously played two years with Belfius Mons-Hainaut.

Royal welcome: All three local players selected in the 2022 MLB Draft ended up signing with pro teams rather than going to college, as 20th-round pick Austin Charles locked down a deal with the Kansas City Royals on July 29. The two-way star Charles had been expected to go earlier in the draft, casting some doubt on whether he would join Kansas City or head to school at UC Santa Barbara, and he spent the days after the draft waiting for an appealing offer from the Royals. He ultimately signed for a reported $429,500, according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis. Liberty’s Cutter Coffey and Taft’s Logun Clark previously agreed to terms with the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Guardians, respectively.

Highway 15 and Alberta Provincial Highway Nos. 2 and 4 rivalry: The Calgary Flames officially announced Aug. 2 that the former Stockton Heat will now be known as the Calgary Wranglers, cementing the 10-team lineup of a new-look American Hockey League Pacific Division that also features the expansion Coachella Valley Firebirds. The Bakersfield Condors will face the Wranglers for the first time at Mechanics Bank Arena on Nov. 18.

Home of the Braves (part 1): Another Bakersfield College baseball player has moved into coaching, as former catcher Ryan Dickerson, who most recently started behind the plate at William Jewell College, has been added to the coaching staff at Ottawa (Kan.) University. As the Ottawa Braves’ press release notes, Dickerson has built up a variety of coaching-adjacent experience over the years, including working with BC catchers, leading a youth team and umpiring. Dickerson is working on a master’s degree in sports business from Ottawa.

Home of the Braves (part 2): Boston Red Sox pitcher Austin Davis may be the most prominent CSUB alumnus currently playing baseball, but Atlanta Braves prospect Darius Vines is certainly moving up the list. He went in the seventh round in 2019 as the highest-drafted Roadrunner ever. Vines, who is currently pitching for the Mississippi Braves in AA, went on a tear in July and was named the Southern League Pitcher of the Month. With a 1.51 ERA in his last eight starts through Thursday, the Oxnard native has lowered his season-long ERA by more than two full points. It seems like a matter of time before Vines ascends to AAA Gwinnett and potentially the big-league club.

Reporter Henry Greenstein can be reached at 661-395-7374. Follow him on Twitter: @HenryGreenstein.

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