The Journal Gazette
Thursday, December 31, 2020 1:00 am

Mad Ants to play; no games in city

Season will likely take place in Florida

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

It appears the G League will have a season and the Mad Ants will participate, but games won't be played in Fort Wayne.

A source confirmed that the Mad Ants have opted in for a proposed G League season, which would take place in one location, perhaps Orlando, Florida. But the NBA's Indiana Pacers, who own and operate the Mad Ants, continue to decline comment on their plans – including who would coach the Mad Ants, since Steve Gansey's contract wasn't renewed last month.

The Athletic reported Monday that the league is aiming for a season on the Disney campus in Orlando with 12- to 15-game schedules and that 18 teams, including the Mad Ants, will participate.

The teams that have opted out, per The Athletic, are: College Park, Maine, Windy City, Texas, Grand Rapids, South Bay, Sioux Falls, Wisconsin, Northern Arizona, Stockton and Capital City.

A G League draft would be Jan. 11, per the report.

Memorial Coliseum general manager Randy Brown confirmed the Mad Ants no longer have any dates reserved for this season. The Mad Ants' lease with the Coliseum expires next summer.

The Mad Ants' average announced attendance last season was 2,416, including a game in Las Vegas at the Winter Showcase. The Mad Ants ranked 10th among the G League's 28 teams in average attendance, just above the league average of 2,245.

A source told The Journal Gazette that as recently as last week, the Mad Ants staff was holding planning sessions for a 2021-22 season in Fort Wayne. Brown said he's “had no indication” that the Mad Ants are thinking of anything other than playing in Fort Wayne next season.

As for this season, there's little clue as to who would be on a Mad Ants' roster in a bubble. The only two who would seem assured of being on the roster would be the Pacers players on two-way contracts: Brian Bowen II and Cassius Stanley. Bowen averaged 16.2 points and 7.8 rebounds over 29 games last season with Fort Wayne, while also playing six games with the Pacers. Stanley was a second-round NBA draft pick this year out of Duke.

One of the factors the NBA has had to weigh in going forward with a G League season is how it will affect the new G League Ignite, which is geared toward grooming elite NBA prospects as an alternative to college. That team, which includes ballyhooed prospects Jalen Green and Isaiah Todd, will be coached by Brian Shaw and includes Reggie Hearn, a native of Fort Wayne who has played for the Detroit Pistons.

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