The All-Star team for the 2014 Tucson Summer Pro League included ex-Loyola Marymount center Chris Ayer of Flowing Wells, ex-UMass center Anthony Oates of Amphitheater and current Indiana State forward Bryce Burnett of Cienega.
Not bad for summer basketball in Tucson.
Ayer is one of the super seven big men in Tucson prep history — with Salpointe’s Dave Mills; Tucson High’s Ray Kosanke; Santa Rita’s Dave Feitl; Salpointe’s Brian Smith; and CDO brothers Brian and Mark Jung — and he harbors the belief he is good enough to play in the NBA.
“I’ve been getting better every year,” said Ayer, who is about to turn 31. “But going back to the NBA D-League and fitting into someone’s system, well, I’m not sure I want to do that again.”
Ayer has played for seven D-League teams — Maine, Santa Cruz, Reno, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Springfield and Utah — and most of the time he’s been a backup center. The one year he was a starter, 2011 at South Dakota, he put up prospect-type numbers: 12.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and a 49.5 percent shooting percentage.
He has also played for the Los Angeles Lightning and the KL Dragons in the Malaysian pro league.
“I haven’t been able to showcase what I can do,” he said. “I’ve been asked to fill a role. My stats don’t look good, so people don’t think you can play.”
It’s not that basketball hasn’t been good to Ayer. He has been a world traveler. He has played against NBA centers. He was on the roster of the Great Britain 2012 Olympic basketball squad.
“Basketball paid for my college, and it paid for my first car,” he said. “I’m hoping it will pay for my first house next.”
While in Tucson this summer, Ayer taught a camp at the Tucson Racquet & Fitness Club, works out twice a day and plays basketball three or four times a week. He is contemplating a post-basketball career as a firefighter/paramedic.
“I need to make a decision about basketball by October,” he said. “I would like to go overseas again. I have a good attitude about the NBA. It’s a very, very small community of professionals, 300 players in the entire world. It’s a numbers game. If I never make it, it won’t detract from what I’ve accomplished.”