Lebanon Leprechauns Basketball Team Set to Launch
Photographer / Jon Ellegood
Though Preston Myers doesn’t fancy himself much of a basketball player, he’s been coaching the sport at the high school and small-college level for the last 20 years. Now he’s the president of a new semi-pro basketball team, the Lebanon Leprechauns. The Basketball League (TBL) is a minor league basketball organization that began operating in North America in 2018 with eight teams. By 2021 it had expanded to more than 30 teams. The team’s inception began with a conversation between Myers and former Indiana University basketball star Kent Benson. Benson has a TBL team in New Castle called the Indiana All-Americans. Other TBL teams in the state include the Kokomo BobKats and the Medora Timberjacks.
“We’re trying to make Indiana a TBL hotbed, and truth be told, there’s no better place for this to work than Indiana,” Myers says.
Originally from Lebanon, Myers thought the league would be a great fit for Lebanon.
“I love basketball and love my city, so starting this team is really a love letter to my hometown,” says Myers, who has had a blast building the league, from designing uniforms to finding cheerleaders, mascots and players.
“It’s been pretty exciting playing fantasy basketball on a new level,” says Myers, who has been all over the country at TBL open combines and scouting events looking for players. The moment the announcement came that a team was coming to Lebanon, he began getting calls and emails from agents and players – roxughly 70 per week.
“I got so many that I couldn’t keep up,” he says. Ultimately, he found several great local folks and also pulled in talent from other states including Arkansas, North Carolina, Texas, California, Illinois and Massachusetts. “We’re really trying to piece something together that will hopefully be super successful, but if nothing else interesting.”
Though 20 players were invited to training camp, only 12 made the final roster.
“The thing that has surprised me most about building this team is not what it takes to find a good player, but what it takes to settle on advancing the right kind of people for this opportunity,” he says. “I’ve turned away a ton of talent based on that gut instinct that they aren’t right for this organization.”
Though talent is abundant, Myers says he would much rather lose with the right people than win with the wrong ones.
“Character is just as important as the jump shot, if not more important,” says Myers, noting that the men who made the team have an incredible work ethic. While the goal of many players is to play in the NBA, there are other ways dreams can come true.
“Here in Lebanon, that might be making a connection with a local kid who asks you for your first pro autograph,” Myers says.
He came up with the team name because he’s always considered himself incredibly lucky. He also liked the idea of having the opening game coincide with Saint Patrick’s Day, or close to it. March 18 is the season opener. The City of Lebanon is planning to organize a post-game downtown celebration to kick off the season.
“We’d love to have a standing St. Patty’s Day home game,” Myers says. “That would be a great tradition to start in year-one and continue in perpetuity.”
Former NBA player Brian Rowsom coaches the team. Drafted by the Indiana Pacers in the same year as Reggie Miller, he went on to play with the Charlotte Hornets, then finished his career playing in Europe before transitioning to coaching. He’s won three international championships in the last 10 years, playing in Japan, Indonesia and Qatar.
“I’m confident that with the coach I’ve hired and the players I’ve found, we will put a good product on the floor,” Myers says.
While there’s no way to predict how many people will fill the stands, Myers is banking on the fact that basketball fans will come see what the Leprechauns are all about. He hopes to create an entertaining, family-friendly atmosphere like the Indianapolis Indians, where spectators can watch a great game of basketball but also enjoy the pomp and circumstance of a pro game, complete with cheerleaders and T-shirt guns.
“The experience has got to be appealing to everybody,” Myers says. “If it’s just basketball, I don’t know that it would be successful. If Lebanon and Boone County embrace us, these guys could potentially put down roots and be contributing members of our organization for years to come.”
Community buzz is growing for the Lebanon Leprechauns. Not only are individuals and families buying tickets and merchandise, but the team also has some core supporters who have bought blocks of tickets to give to youth organizations like the Boys & Girls Club.
“People don’t know what they’re going to see that first night, but I think they’ll be blown away by this level of basketball,” Myers says.
For more information about the Lebanon Leprechauns or to see the 2022 game schedule, visit lebanonleprechauns.com.