Easily a candidate for TBL MVP honors this season, the rookie point guard for the expansion Rogues has taken his game to a higher level in 2023.
Augusta, Georgia — It’s a few hours before tip-off for Game 1 of the 2nd Round of TBL’s exciting and heavily hyped 2023 postseason, and Armani Chaney is trying to block out the noise.
Taking time prior to practice while game planning for the Georgia Soul, the New Foundland Rogues’ All-Star guard and All East selection busily swapped a couple of voice messages and direct messages for this exclusive interview with Around The Basketball League. It’s all part of a postseason ride that included a thrilling victory over a scrappy Raleigh Firebirds squad, thanks to Armani going for a team-high 26 points in the 122-110 win. There’s no such thing as an easy win in TBL, but this season the kid from Chicago courtesy of Tennessee State is making his rookie campaign look effortless as one of the best players in the league. Some might even say he’ll take home Rookie of the Year honors, the MVP trophy, and perhaps even “The Lillie” if the Rogues can cash in on what has been a championship caliber and storybook season.
Not only does Chaney rank 5th in TBL in scoring (28.6 points per game), 4th in assists (7.9), 9th in 3-point percentage (47%), 2nd in 3-pointers made (118), and 9th in free-throw percentage (85.6), but the Rogues have followed AC’s lead all season long playing the most games between TBL and NBLC (34) and ranking 8th in team scoring at 120.1 points per game.
Yet even with all of the statistic analysis aside and the on-going MVP chatter, there are some things that matter much more to No. 4: Winning a TBL Championship and making it safely back home to Chicago to be reunited with his #1 fan, his young daughter Kalani Chaney. And while Father’s Day is still a couple of weeks away, Kalani’s dad is busy rising to the occasion just like he has all season long and particularly during the Rogues’ current 8-game win streak.
Needless to say, Armani Chaney and the New Foundland Rogues are busy making some noise of their own this postseason.
What makes you guys so tough to beat, especially right now while on this current win streak and the chance to advance beyond this Championship Series?
I think it was vital that we played in two different leagues early out with TBL and NBLC. It allowed us to understand our potential and now we’re just trying to maximize it. I also feel playing so many games together made us gel quicker because we started so much earlier. We have a lot of guys who work hard, and understand what it takes to buy in at a high level. We all knew how special we could become, it was just a matter of time for us to come together, and understand what our identity would be. Coach obviously expects nothing but the best effort, so we just try to go out and exemplify what he says.
New Foundland seems like it’s been a great experience for you personally. Does it feel like home?
Newfoundland definitely has a special place in my heart, it’s really bittersweet that the season is close to over. But i really appreciate the fans for always showing love and just supporting us in the best way they can. Hopefully we can keep rallying wins so we can get a playoff game back out there, i know they would love that.
Will you be back next year?
Haha, that’s a delicate question. I would say we just have to wait and see what the future holds for me. But I would definitely come back for a lot of the right reasons.
The Basketball Super League (BSL) is launching and tipping off in December…what do you think about TBL and NBLC announcing the creation of BSL, and potentially playing in the league?
I think that’s huge for the guys that are involved of course if I am it will be huge for myself. But I think it’s a great spinoff for better basketball and better opportunities. NBLC is hard competition and bringing some of the best TBL teams within that, will make great games and atmospheres.
Your name should be front and center in the MVP conversation thanks to your All-Star season. What do think when it comes to possibly taking home MVP honors?
MVP is an individual award, I just go out and do what i feel i can do to help our team win. Obviously it would be great to achieve after my first year in the TBL, but the championship would be way more sweeter!
Growing up in Chicago, did you ever think you’d be playing one day in Canada (or internationally for that matter)?
Honestly, I had dreams like all kids from my city to make it to the NBA, but things changed and opportunities opened up. I’m just grateful to still be playing basketball at a high level really no matter where I am. I’m pretty much home only for summers now, but the toughest part is just being away from my daughter (Kalani Chaney) and not seeing her through these first early years of her life.
How difficult is it being away from Kalani and your family while pursuing your dream?
It’s difficult when talking to her, but it’s what I have to do so I can establish myself, I mean this isn’t the plan forever so as long as she knows how much I care about her and want to see her succeed then I’m fine with that.
It is part of being a professional athlete…how would you describe your experience turning pro since coming out of Tennessee State?
I’ve only been a professional for about a year now, but the business side was something very difficult to understand early on. For me I just put my head down and work on my game so that side kind of take cares of itself. Granted, I will always ask questions but i think the process of learning and taking what I need to know to help myself is a huge step in the right direction.
What can fans expect heading into the 2nd Round of the playoffs where you’ll face the Georgia Soul in the best of three series?
I believe we play defense and rebound and stay together through all adversity then we will get the job done.
Wendell Maxey is the author of Around The Basketball League and has written about professional basketball and sports for 20 years. He’s been featured on NBA.com, ESPN.com, USA Today, FOX Sports, and SLAM Magazine among other publications and media outlets. You can connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn or read through his archive on Linktree.