By Jonathan Van Dyke
ContributorPlayers of all shapes and sizes converged on La Jolla’s Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center on Saturday morning with pro hoops aspirations, looking to latch onto San Diego’s new American Basketball Association (ABA) team, the San Diego Surf.
“The ultimate goal is to make this team today,” said small forward Ervin Johnson of Clairemont, as he stretched before opening drills. “And in the future, if things open up for me, that’d be great.”
About two dozen players attended the two-hour mini-camp, taking instructions from coach Terry Mason in a variety of drills before breaking into teams for some scrimmaging.
Some familiar faces were on the court, including several former players from San Diego’s previous ABA team, the Wildcats. One such player was John Clark, a combo guard on the Wildcat team that made the league championship during its 2007 campaign. Mason was an assistant coach of that squad.
“We were one of those teams that worked hard every day in practice,” Clark said, noting that he’ll expect nothing less now that Mason is head coach of the Surf.
The team will play at Cathedral High School, where seating allows for up to 2,000 fans. The season will kick off on Dec. 5 and will include 15 home games and 15 away games.
While the team will be playing with the league’s signature red, white and blue basketball, some rules have been tweaked. For example, if a team gets a steal or creates a turnover on defense, and if it makes a basket going the other way, that basket is worth one extra point. Two point shots become three points and three-pointers can really swing a game when they are worth four.
“It can be a very high scoring game and you’ll see a lot of highlights,” Clark said. “It’s pretty entertaining.”
Because of the unique rules, Mason hopes to emphasize defense above all else.
“If you come out to see a Surf basketball game, you are going to see 10 to 12 young men working very hard,” he added.
For local businessman Ross Kurland, owning the Surf is an opportunity to share his deepest passion with San Diego.
Previously, Kurland had some interest in marketing the Wildcats, or even buying the team.
“I went to a Wildcat game and I didn’t even know that they’d already played a season,” he said. “I’m into basketball and I didn’t know about it. How could you not know about a local ABA team?”
So now Kurland hopes to use his enthusiasm and business savvy to promote the Surf to greater heights.
Players do get a small stipend, but many of those in attendance on Saturday simply love the game and hope to embark on a promising pro career.
“There’s already been over 1,000 hits on the Web site in just under a week so it’s starting to build,” Kurland said.
As for the 20-plus on the court sweating out the process?
“They look solid with their fundamentals and I’m seeing some other good things,” Mason said. “We’re looking for the best talent in this area and abroad. We need to be able to compete with the teams in the ABA and there’s some really good talent there.”
For more information on the Surf, go to