Will Leviton (left) at tryouts for Providence Pirates Basketball team. Photo from the Providence Journal.

From the Providence Steamrollers to the Pawtucket Red Sox, the state of Rhode Island has had its fair share of professional teams over the years. 

A new team will be joining the local scene next year––the Providence Pirates, who will potentially have a familiar face for Rhody fans on their roster: former University of Rhode Island team manager turned scholarship player Will Leviton.

Founded in Sept. 2019, the Pirates will begin their inaugural season in the American Basketball Association in 2021, the same league that brought basketball fans Julius Erving and the three-point shot. Sercan Fenerci, the director and CEO of the Pirates, founded the team in order to provide local players with a stepping stone to play professionally around the world and provide families with an affordable form of entertainment. 

“I want to make sure that these guys who play for the Pirates have a chance to be seen by those teams that can pay them really good salaries,” Fenerci said. 

Fenerci has experience coaching collegiately and at the national team level, most notably with the Turkish 14U and 15U teams. He also has a number of connections with scouts across Europe. According to Fenerci, he has also helped around 80 former players earn professional contracts overseas. He is looking to do the same with the Pirates. 

The team hosted 18 players with experience playing Division I, II and III collegiate basketball, as well as junior college, at its first combine held last month. Leviton was among these players.

After graduating from URI in 2019, Leviton began training middle and high school players while working on his dream of becoming a professional basketball player. When the opportunity came to try out of the Pirates, he knew it was too good to pass up. 

“[Fenerci] said that the Pirates would be the bridge to getting players who are good enough overseas to play professionally,” Leviton said. “I am using this to help bring me further as well and chase my dream.”

Leviton would be named one of ten players that would advance from the combine to the team’s training camp. Fenerci was immediately impressed by Leviton’s composure and work ethic during the combine.

“Will had that mentality of ‘I’m going to work hard, I’m going to prove everyone wrong,’” Fenerci said. “I didn’t know Will as much before he signed up for the combine, but I was very very impressed.”

Providence Pirates Director of Marketing and Communications Victor Kashouh, who, like Leviton, played basketball and graduated from Classical High School in Providence, was also impressed with how he performed at the combine. 

“I saw him very early in his career,” Kashouh said. From his first day, I could see that he was a hard worker, he has goals, he wants to achieve those goals and he’s crossed out a lot of those goals off his checklist and it’s awesome to see.”

Leviton was excited about potentially playing professionally in his home state. He believes it will give the younger generation an opportunity to see that they can reach their goals here in Rhode Island. 

“It gives my family and friends a chance to see me play,” Leviton said. “It just gives younger players a chance to realize they don’t have to give up after high school or college. To just keep pushing because there are plenty of opportunities.” 

The team will hold one final combine on Saturday, Dec. 5 at the Johnston Recreation Center before cutting down to their training camp and team rosters. For more information on the team, visit providencepiratesaba.com.