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While some athletes have spent the summer in school, working, or on the beach, Bulldog basketball player, E'Jay Ward, has been working on his game. Ward has spent the last few weeks playing in the Rocky Top League in Knoxville, TN on the Campus Lights team. Although the team wasn't successful, losing all 5 games, Ward found success in averaging 9.4 points a game, and leading the league in assists.
Ward's experience in the Rocky Top League was "great." He went on to say, "I would describe my first initial feeling as relaxed intensity. I was extremely honored to showcase my talents with some elite competition. While sitting in the locker room, meeting and greeting with all the players before the first game, coach said "Guys who are from the lower level schools will need to earn there playing time". Ward experienced this in the first game spending time on the bench, but once he was put in he showed them that he was capable of playing at their level, stealing the ball and quickly scoring 3 times in a row. He showed that "Not only did those words ignite my competitive nature, it motivated me to represent Tennessee Wesleyan and the NAIA in respectable fashion. However, I knew this was a moment for me to prove to myself that I could perform versus high caliber athletes."
Ward was the only AAC player in the league and one of just a few NAIA players. Campus Lights Coach, Brent Watts, stated that "E'Jay is the kind of player that the Pilot Rocky Top League is designed for in the summer. The league is designed to allow players from small schools to compete against players from larger schools. "
Watts feels that the "league gave E'Jay the opportunity to display his exceptional basketball skills against players from larger universities. E'Jay came into the draft with a reputation as the quickest player in the league and he did not disappoint. It was obvious from the first play that he had the ability to play with the best players in the league. His exceptional quickness and great court vision allowed him to become a team and crowd favorite. After watching E'Jay play in the Pilot Rocky Top League, it is obvious that he has put in 3 years of hard work at the collegiate level and this hard work has paid off by giving him the ability to compete at any level of college basketball. E'Jay is another example that small colleges can offer great basketball."
E'Jay commented that, "Since my youth league days being able to distribute the ball has been one of my strengths. Therefore, the makeup of the league and fast paced tempo worked in my favor. I left feeling pleased with my performance yet eager to use the experience gained from my involvement in this year's Rocky Top League back to Athens, TN."