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Written By: Mike Mon
In college hoops, transfers and JUCO recruits have huge March Madness impacts.  JUCO transfers provide coaches with experienced options come crunch time, instead of teams being forced to rely on babyfaced one and doners.  Transfers from other big time programs seek greener pastures, because maybe they couldn’t fit in their previous system, they want to be closer to home, or they see a better opportunity elsewhere.  In the NBA, free agency has given us the Miami Heat’s D-Wade, Lebron, and Bosh trio.  In the League, players move around for more money, more endorsements, and sometimes they’ll take their services to South Beach for a chance at winning it all.  This trend, for better or for worse, has slowly trickled down to all level of basketball and the NACBAIT is no exception. 

While there are a handful of rookie players with the skills to make an impact each Memorial Day, it has been pretty evident over the past few years that the easiest way to attain positive results is to grab players that have already played in the tournament.  The players know the rules, they know the format, they already know their opponents, you don’t need to worry about eligibility squabbles, and they are used to the bright lights of the big dance.  Plus, when you add a player that you have seen play in this environment, you pretty much know what you’re going to get.  With rookies and new adds, you never know what to expect. 

The golden days of teams pulling it off with entirely grassroots campaigns may have passed us by as we entered the 21st century.  The 2004 Boston Hurricanes might have been the last time we will ever see something like that again, and even then they needed to sign MVP Oak Nguyen (NACBA Top 30, formerly of the Boston Freemasons) in order to climb the big mountain.  Although there is no replacement for chemistry or time spent practicing and busting your behind in the gym with your 10 guys, in the end you can’t teach tall, you can’t teach athletic, and you can’t teach fast.  If you have a pretty solid group of players and just need those one or two guys to push your team over the hump, then it’s time to take that step.  NY USAB did it, using four transfers on their eight man roster as they took home the 2007 title.  While some teams like the Toronto Dragons, NY Sabres, NY Rockits, or the Philly Suns pride themselves on winning or losing with their own guys, these organizations are the exception rather than the rule.  Longstanding teams like the NY Cruisers (Ian Yu, Howie Chu, Leon Chu, Alex Stewart, Stan Yeung) and Washington CYC (Hank Huang, Huy Nguyen, Brian Liang, Daniel Liu, Tuan Tang, Stan Hwang) still get it done with their traditional core but have added carefully combed the free agent market to bolster their chances over the past two seasons.  The key is to find guys who will fit into your system, and that’s the hardest part of the game.  One day, NACBA teams are going to need GM’s. 

Don’t blame the players or the teams for ruining the game, because the new additions are just as passionate and committed to winning the chip as the “originals.”  Anyways, teams are just following the blueprint for success that was laid down by the Seattle Bladerunners dynasty when they inked Song Cun (NACBA Top 30, LA Alpine).  Last year’s newest Bladerunner, Stephen Chang (AZ Desert Jade,) was clutch when they needed him, earning MVP honors en route to the team’s 6th Championship.  They have continued to scour the pantry in search of top talent as you will see below.    

Lest you think it is just the Men’s Elite division that’s working the wire, the ladies have been getting in on the action the past few years.  Angie Leung’s big switch from the NY Cruisers to the Toronto Dragons made huge headlines when it happened years ago, and recent additions (or re-additions in the case of Kim Lee) pushed them to the 2010 title.  Now, there is just as much player movement in the female divisions as there are the in the male ones.  The Seniors have also followed the wave, with guys like Robert Choy (NACBA Top 30, Chicago Dragons) hopping on with the Toronto CCYAA Seniors in 2009 to get in on the Championship Run. As you will also see when you scroll down the page, even the Youth and Juniors divisions are not exempt from player poaching.

In the end, it’s a tournament by the players for the players and if this is what the players want to do, then that’s what I’ll write about.  Without further debate, here we go with the much anticipated 2011 edition of the NACBA Waiver Wire.

We begin with the Seattle Bladerunners, who will be without Austin Yuen (NACBA Top 30, 2009 Elite MVP) and brother Royce.  To replace the Yuens, Coach Yu has signed a contract with 6-2 PF Ryan Dunn (All-NACBA, SF Duke).  As if Dunn’s scoring won’t be enough, Cal-Berkley’s 6-5 F Thomas Fang (SF Wildcats) will be ready for action.  It may be a case of addition by addition.

Washington CYC A loses Huy Nguyen (2007 Friendship MVP, 2010 All-NACBA) with a knee injury but has inked 6-1 SF Tuan Tang (Penn-State Abington, 2009 Friendship MVP) as a temporary stopgap on loan from Philadelphia Fastball. He could be a sleeper. CYC has also added 6-5 260 lb. C Stan Hwang of Arizona Desert Jade as an insurance policy

LA Aiya finally gets the free agent acquisition they have been craving for years as NACBA Top 10’er and 2006 MVP Cecilia Chan has been persuaded to put on the Aiya orange.  Her shipjump will certainly cause some drama and makes LA’s deep run inevitable.  Hopefully CC decides to come from Hong Kong to play.

SG Ling Lai (NACBA Top 10, 2004, 2005, 2006 All-NACBA, 2007 Liberty MVP) and Chinatown childhood buddy PG Shannon Yu (2007 All-NACBA) last played in 2008/2009 for the Philly Lady Suns but have since left the club and joined the Phila Fast Belles (2011 Pre-NACBAIT Classic Champions).  As the Fast Belles will not be playing this year due to the unexpected pregnancy of a key player, Lai and Yu will lace up for the Washington CYC China Dolls in 2011, joining Fast Belles teammate Michelle Chan.

The NY Lady Rockits teams have taken on a large number of NY Sabres in the past couple years.  This year, Vanessa Leung, Kristin Lew, and Terri Chu will join the ranks of F Serena Poon and SG Aileen Tso, who defected last season.  They are hoping that a change of scenery and playing style will do them good this May.

Four time All-NACBA pick Alex Stewart returns to NY Maximum Output after a highly successful one year stint with the NY RL Cruisers where they reached the Final Four and upset the Chicago Dragons WW on day one.  This do-it all forward’s return to Coach Chow’s MO squad makes them a legit title contender.

5-11 PF De Lin rejoins the Philly Suns after an up and down year with Fastball B.  He gives the Suns a little bit of size and passion on the boards.

Brothers Tommy Le (5-10 F, 2007 All-NACBA) and Tung Le (6-2 C), both former Philly Suns, have abandoned the fort and joined most of their old teammates on Phila Fastball.  The Le boys will bolster the Fastball B frontline.  2010 All-NACBA PG Moses Ma (Grace University) has also joined Phila Fastball after starring last year for the CCYAA Downtown Raiders.

Ma’s old Raider teammate, 6-2 Center/Ngun Lam fastman Daniel Tran has also left the Raiders and will be stepping up to the Toronto Dragons A, as they attempt to replace Chinabound 6-7 C Jon Tam.  The Dragons A have also moved up post player Kelvin Cheung and SF Matt Lum (All-NACBA 2010) to fill their roster voids. The Dragons B have gotten Hancocks from two former CCYAA Juniors to take Cheung and Lum’s roster spots. Daniel Mong and Jason Ng will get a taste of playing with the men from now on.

Former All-NACBA SG John Hsu (previous stints with Washington CYC B and NJ Raging Demonz) brings his sniper attack to NY FBNYC B.

Manuel and Anthony Cuadrado have departed the proud NY USAB program and have joined up with the NY United East Juniors, following in the footsteps of their big brother. Steven Zhao has done the same.

The United East Men’s team has lost 4 players from their second place Men’s Open squad, as All-NACBA PG Tommy Zheng, Jack Ma, Will Pun, and Sean Zhang have done the group thing and will be putting on new unis for the NY Runnin Rebels.

6-1 SF Robert Yee (Montgomery College), who had runs with Washington CYC and the NJ Pirates in recent years, will see if he still has that go-to pullup jumpshot move when he steps onto the court for the Boston Knights Seniors.  Chemistry won’t be an issue as he spent the best years of his career with the Knights while he lived in Boston for work.

Guard Jimmy Ng did the Rockits-USAB-Rockits thing, but the Youth division’s top talent looks like he will remain dedicated to the Rockits.

Legendary NACBA Top 30 player Robert Choy has returned to his roots and will rejoin the team that made him a star as the Chicago Dragons Master 45’s have their eyes on the prize.

Versatile 6-3 big man Ken Hsiung returns from an improbable Elite 8 run last year with Montreal to his Markham FCCM pals.  SG Jackie Fung has moved to Hong Kong, so the tradeoff for more size should help as FCCM moves up to the Elite this year after winning the Open in ’10.

SG/SF Ronald Lim put on a Texas Ballistics uniform for almost a decade, but as the Ballistics will not be taking part this year, Lim has assembled his own terror squad, and brought along former Ballistics PF Kiet Huynh as well as sibling Rudy Lim to the new Team Texas.

With the New Jersey Pirates absent this year, NACBA Top 30 guy Beaver Ho (NACBA’s All-Time leading scorer) was looking to get another couple games in.  He will hook up another Top 30’er, Denny Lee, as he departs the NY Fishmen.  Together, they will give the NY Legends a decidedly legendary flavor.