Trey Suttles has decided to return close to home.
Jorden Williams never strayed far away.
Both college basketball players are in the Ricky Taylor Pro-Am League, which started Tuesday night at Notre Dame High School. They play for the Servants, who lost 113-101 to And 1 in the first game of the evening.
Former Tyner standout Suttles had 24 points, while McCallie alumnus Williams had 17, but they couldn't overcome a 34-point performance from former Lookout Valley standout Sidney Pointer.
"This league is a great opportunity to play against good players," Suttles said. "I love good competition. We've been waiting for something like this for a while; instead of going center to center, we can come together and play."
Suttles played a season at Cleveland State and was the TCCAA freshman of the year before transferring to conference rival Walters State. He played last year at NCAA Division II member Armstrong Atlantic in Savannah, Ga., averaging 11.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in 15 games before choosing to return home.
He said Tuesday he plans to play his final season at Tennessee Wesleyan, an NAIA school in Athens.
"It's close to home," he said. "My mom and grandmother are getting older, and the six-hour trips to see me play weren't easy. It was fun down there, but we were still losing, so I figured I'd come close to home and have a chance to win."
Williams has put together a nice career to date at NCAA Division III Sewanee. He's twice been named all-conference, last season averaging 16.1 points and 2.4 assists while playing a combo guard position, transitioning between the point and off guard. He said he expects to play more off the ball in the 2015-16 season as a 2 guard in hopes of being able to create more opportunities for his teammates while still being a threat to score.
He shot 39 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore and said he has no regrets about spurning some late opportunities to play at a higher level.
"I tell people all the time that there are ballplayers everywhere," Williams said. "It's not where you go, but what you do when you get there. I felt I was under-recruited in high school, and I carry that chip on my shoulder and try to give people the business every time I step on the court. It was frustrating, but God put me in this position to be successful, and I'm going to embrace that and try to keep on pushing."
Like Suttles, he said the opportunity to play against players he'd heard about when he was younger was one he couldn't turn down.
"It's great. I get the chance to measure my game against top talent," Williams said. "I can measure to see what it'll be like at the next level if I want to get there.
"I'm just glad we have this league. Having a chance to talk with Ricky (Taylor), he's a great guy that's pushing us to be the best, and trying to help Chattanooga get bigger. Nashville, Knoxville with the Rocky Top League, Memphis — I feel like we're underappreciated. We have ballplayers here and we're trying to show we can play, too."
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