By TJ Millman
On average, 3 out of every 10,000 high school basketball players will be drafted to an NBA team. For the other 9,997 players, a decision has to be made about their future. Many players feel lost leaving behind the life of sports that they have so passionately lived for, and they have no idea what to do next. Milford native Jonathan Dukes, an All-State player for Milford back in ’87, acknowledges this struggle and is looking for a way to help bridge this gap for local athletes.
His idea to fix this problem has manifested itself into Milford’s first semi-pro basketball team, the Delaware Eastern Shore Generals. They are playing in the American Professional Basketball League (APBL), and will compete against teams from the New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland areas. Home games will be played in the Milford High School gymnasium.
“We have a lot of talent down here in Lower Delaware, but we don’t have that bridge to take our talents to the next level. I figured, why not build the bridge myself? I got a team together, and our goal is to help these players get exposure, teach them the business side of basketball, and help them to find opportunities in any professional basketball leagues. There are so many opportunities overseas that people don’t even realize, and our players are going to leave the season with film and coaching that they can take with them to get to the next level,” Dukes said.
One thing that Dukes was emphatic about was his team that helps him to run the Generals. “Our Head Coach, Andre Matthews, was a great basketball player in his time. He was a State Champion at Seaford, and he played semi-professionally after playing college ball at Delaware State University. One of our advisors, Derek Savage, played basketball overseas as well as playing basketball in college. There are so many others, but I just wanted to get as much basketball knowledge in the room as I could, and I have a great team of people who know what it takes to be players and professionals,” Dukes said.
The Generals had their first scrimmage this past Saturday, and they looked sharp for their first time playing together. They scrimmaged last year’s champions, The Beltway Bombers, and controlled the game with their fast transition offense as well as crisp, three-point shooting. The inaugural basket was scored by Milford’s own Stefon Dukes, a fitting start for the Milford team. Aside from Stefon, Milford has another alumni on the team, Tikeace Harris, who also had a solid Generals debut.
Head Coach Andre Matthews built his team with an idea in mind, and is coaching the team completely as a volunteer.
“We knew that we were going to be a smaller team. We just don’t have that much height down here. We focused on putting together a team of quick, athletic players that could shoot the ball and get out on the break. My expectation is always to win, no matter where I am, and I expect nothing less from this team. I’m out here volunteering because it’s my turn to give back. If I didn’t have people help me out when I was growing up, I wouldn’t have made it as far as I did. Now I get to take all the knowledge that I’ve gathered over the years and use it to help these younger guys,” Matthews said.
The Generals are still looking for sponsors, and anyone who is interested can reach out firstname.lastname@example.org or go to kingsportsde.com for more info. All money goes directly towards uniforms, practice time, and other team costs. All coaches and staff are strictly volunteers.
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