Capital City League returns, Niang selected with first pick


Jameel McKay guards Georges Niang during a game at the YMCA Capital City Basketball League in Des Moines last summer. 

Chris Wolff

College basketball season is still months away, but hoops junkies can get their fix during the summer months by keeping up with the YMCA Capital City League, which features players from Iowa State, Drake, smaller colleges and local high schools.

The Capital City League features a lot of offense and not a whole lot of defense, like you might expect in a summer league. The result? High scoring games, crazy stat lines and a whole lot of entertainment.

Last season, newcomer Jameel McKay took home MVP honors and won the league title alongside fellow newcomer Hallice Cooke. McKay dazzled fans with numerous previews of the dunks they would become accustomed to throughout Iowa State’s regular season.

Mckay averaged a league-record 19 rebounds per game and recorded a 30-30 game when he scored 31 points and pulled down 32 rebounds. McKay was not the only ISU athlete to put up big numbers. In fact, big stat lines are the norm for ISU players in the summer league.

Matt Thomas dropped 44 points and chucked 16 3s in a game. Naz Long poured in 40 points and tossed 20 3s in a game. Former Cyclone Kourtlin Jackson dropped 50 points in a game. Abdel Nader had a 20-point, 20-rebound outing. Monté Morris dropped a triple-double or two. In 2013, Sherron Dorsey-Walker set a league record by scoring 67 points in a game.

You get the point.

It is offensive-minded basketball on steroids. Or maybe it’s the lack of defensive effort. Either way, the result is highly entertaining basketball with games routinely reaching scores in the 120 or 130 range.

If that sounds like your cup of tea then perhaps the Capital City League is for you. Maybe you just can’t wait until the real college basketball season rolls around next fall. Either way, games are free and open to the public and all located in the Des Moines area.

The Capital City League is also a chance for ISU fans to get their first look at newcomers such as Deonte Burton, who sat out this past season after transferring, and guys like Nick Babb and Nick Noskowiak. 

Former ISU star Melvin Ejim, who will be back in Iowa this summer holding a basketball camp, even teased the possibility of returning to the Capital City League on Twitter.

“You never know lol,” Ejim responded to a tweet asking about a potential cameo appearance in the summer league. “It may not be “Hoiball”, but it’s some quality entertainment for ISU fans until Otzelberger ball, Hornecek ball, Prohm Ball or whatever type of basketball ISU’s next coach establishes next season, but it’s something to get your hoops fix until then.”

Games for the Capital City League will begin June 17. 

2015 Draft

Despite being the league’s reigning MVP, McKay was not the top pick of the Capital City League’s 2015 draft. Georges Niang was selected as the No. 1 pick, followed by Monté Morris and McKay. Below is the draft order for Iowa State’s round:  

1. Georges Niang

2. Monté Morris

3. Jameel McKay

4. Matt Thomas

5. Abdel Nader

6. Hallice Cooke

7. Deonte Burton

8. Daniel Edozie

9. Nick Noskowiak

10. Nick Babb

11. Kourtlin Jackson

12. Jordan Ashton 

Note: Naz Long will not participate in the Capital City League this year because of his ongoing recovery from hip surgeries. Georgios Tsalmpouris will also not participate in the summer league as he has returned to Greece to play on their national U-19 and U-20 teams.