By Lauren Jones, DrewLeague.com
In the 40th anniversary of the Drew League, a legend of the League has returned – Maurice “Big Mo” Spillers, one of the top five players to ever play in the League, who just happens to be celebrating his 40th birthday this year.
“[Big Mo] was the face of the Drew League – the Bobby Brown of the 1990’s,” said Dino Smiley.
After a seven year hiatus, Spillers has returned to play with Hank’s Top Prospects.
“See I played here when it was starting and I was coming out of high school going to college,” said Spillers.
Spillers attended Westchester High School and went on to play at Utah State, where he transitioned into a 15-year career overseas.
“It’s amazing to see where the Drew came from,” said Spillers.
Big Mo says despite obvious improvements that include the Nike partnership and the move from Washington Park to King Drew High School, there is a major constant for the Drew: teams want to create a dynasty.
“LAUNFD has won the last three years in a row meaning they have bragging rights right now,” said Spillers. “That’s what the Drew League has always been about, being dedicated to winning multiple championships with the same team,” said Spillers.
Spillers has five Drew League championships under his belt, and says it would be nice to win another in his return season.
“Although a championship would be nice, I really wanted to see if I could still keep up,” said Spillers. “The level of play is so competitive here that it prepared me for every step of my basketball career.”
Big Mo credits the longevity of his career and success overseas to the Drew League, and represents the spirit of the Drew whether he’s in Brazil, Utah, or back in Watts.
“When I was playing at the Drew there were veteran league guys guiding me and telling me what I needed to do to get ahead, so I listened and moved on.”
Spillers started in the League and immediately dominated. He wants to see if he can rekindle that dominance he had as a young player, but in a new way, as he still retains that innate love of the game.
“The camaraderie you experience at the Drew is unmatched,” said Spillers.
Big Mo is a veteran to the new generation of ambitious Drew League players aspiring to make it to the professional level. He hopes to impart the wisdom he has received from his years of play, particularly his view that play should always remain clean and competitive, and showcase athletic talent.
“I want them to have fun, its basketball and it’s okay to play physical, but keep it inside the lines always,” said Big Mo.
The continued support and participation of players like Big Mo is but one of the reasons that the Drew League continues to be the premiere pro-am league in America.
“Whether you’re playing overseas or in the league, everybody stays dedicated to this League,” said Spillers. “Not only that, but how much Dino has put in allows [the players] to come in the inner city and put on a show for the community and loyal fans.”
“[Big Mo] bleeds Drew,” said Dino Smiley. “If you are a product of the Drew, even at 40 years old you can still compete at a high level.”
Smiley says that Spillers shows younger players that there is a level of respect you have to give to the Drew League.
“You have to come in shape, ready and focused if you want to become amongst the Drew League elite like Maurice “Big Mo” Spillers,” said Smiley.
Spillers is a prime example of the impact that the Drew has on players from all levels and fields who seem to have a lifelong affair with the game of basketball.
Lauren Jones is entering her senior year at USC majoring in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Sports Media Studies. This is her second summer interning for the Drew League. Her career aspirations are to work as an esteemed sports journalist and eventually as a consultant for athletes in financial literacy, public relations and brand management. Her past experiences include interning for Yahoo! Sports, the Los Angeles Clippers, BET Network, EAG Sports Management, and Nike EYBL.