George Blaney glanced at the four basketball courts in the University of Maryland Armory and liked what he saw.
"It's an opportunity, that's what we've been saying all along," said Blaney, vice president for basketball operations of the International Basketball League. "This is a unique time for all these guys. It is very rare that you draft an entire league. It gives guys hope and a chance."
This much is known about the fledgling IBL, which hopes to rival the Continental Basketball Association as basketball's top minor league.
The league is scheduled to begin play in late November with nine teams in large cities without NBA teams: Albuquerque, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Las Vegas, Richmond, San Diego, St. Louis, Tampa Bay and Trenton, N.J.
The IBL will have a distinctive look. It plans to use a three-point line that is 20 feet 9 inches from the basket (one foot farther than in college but closer than the NBA line) and the wider lane used in international play. The league will also use the international rule on goaltending (it is allowed as long as the ball is not in the cylinder), a 30-second shot clock and it will allow zone defenses.
Players will earn between $20,000 and $100,000 per season, with one year of scholarship money available for each season played in the league. And, similar to Major League Soccer, players will sign contracts with the league, not with teams.
Each team will have 12 players, but only 10 will travel to road games. One player must be a rookie with no professional experience; three must have four years or less professional experience and one must be a foreigner. Each team also is allowed three territorial choices of players who live in and played collegiately within 100 miles of the team's city.
While franchises are still taking shape, the league already has brought in some notable personnel. Blaney formerly coached at Seton Hall and Holy Cross. St. Louis Swarm General Manager Butch Beard previously coached at Howard University and the NBA's New Jersey Nets. Ralph Sampson is the general manager of the Richmond Rhythm.