The Eastern Pennsylvania Basketball League – Willie Somerset

SomersetDriveSutor Willie Somerset #12 Houston

The Eastern Pennsylvania Basketball League formed in 1946 and pre-dates the leagues that would become the NBA. It was founded on April 23, 1946 and it had six franchises – five in Pennsylvania: Wilkes-Barre, Hazleton, Allentown, Lancaster and Reading. A sixth franchise was in Binghampton, NY but moved to Pottsville, Pa by mid-season. It’s history has many franchises moving or disbanding during the season.

The competition in the league was good. Many famous players made their way through the tiny gyms and onto the NBA stage or found fame in other ways. Some players found their way into the ABA and stardom.

Willie was star player at Duquesne University. At 5 ft 8 inches he had to overcome the idea that he was too small to play. He was so good for the Dukes the school retired his #24 jersey om January 27, 2001. Willie used his quickness to average 22.7 points a game and was an All-American in 1965.

Willie Somerset became and all-star for the ABA after being cut by the NBA (He played in the NBA for 8 games with the  Baltimore Bullets  in 1965-66.)   and spending time with the Scranton Miners (I think they were still called the Miners at the time) Somerset averaged 21.7 pts per game in1967-68 and 23.8 in 1968-69 for the Houston Mavericks of the ABA. The Houston franchise was one of the ABA’s worst. No one attended the games and the announced attendance was 89 for a game in 1969. Willie is the 1th highest scorer in franchise history despite playing only 2 seasons. During the 1968-69 ABA season, when he was named an All-ABA. Somerset ranked fifth in the league in points per game, eighth in assists and third in Free Throw Percentage.
 
From 1970-73, Willie  played with the Scranton Miners of the Eastern Basketball  Association and was a member of the league’s championship team in 1971 coached by Stan Novack. Willie was named the league’s MVP. Statistics are sparse for the EBA.
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