Team Name: Motown Muscle
Celebrity Owner: Jerome Bettis
Franchise Player: Mike Fagan
After his best season as a professional bowler, finishing third in competition points in 2011-2012, Mike Fagan earned his spot as a franchise player in the PBA League. Through the draft lottery, Fagan was given the fifth overall pick, which kept him right in the middle of each round due to the serpentine draft format.
1. Mike Fagan
If it weren't for the dueling great seasons of Sean Rash and Jason Belmonte in 2011-2012, Mike Fagan would've almost certainly been named Player of the Year. He finished third in the voting for a season in which he won his first career major (the USBC Masters) and lost to Pete Weber by a single pin in the finals of the U.S. Open.
Fagan's emergence as a top bowler was evident all over the world, including a victory in the Brunswick Euro Challenge, earning enough World Bowling Tour points to find his way to the stepladder finals of the 2012 World Bowling Tour Championship.
Any team starring Mike Fagan would be a formidable opponent for anyone, but he did his best (without any help, unlike some of the other team captains) to put together his ideal supporting cast.
Possibly one of the best picks of the entire draft was Fagan's grab of Tom Smallwood in the first round, fifth overall. Smallwood, a Michigan native, has always performed well at Thunderbowl Lanes, where the PBA League competition will be held.
Smallwood originally earned his PBA fame as the former autoworker who won the PBA World Championship in 2009. His feel-good story from unemployment to top-of-the-line bowler made news around the world, but some were skeptical of Smallwood's ability to sustain his success.
The World Championship is to date his only PBA Tour title, although he did take second place in the 2011 Tournament of Champions and has proved to be a threat in every tournament. Especially in Detroit. That's what Fagan is counting on.
Mike Scroggins was the 12th overall pick in the draft, despite his worries prior to the draft of not being selected at all. Scroggins has eight PBA Tour titles to his name, two of which were majors (the 2005 USBC Masters and the 2009 U.S. Open), and nearly won the 2010 PBA Player of the Year Award, only being narrowly edged by Walter Ray Williams, Jr.
Undoubtedly, Scroggins' experience and ability to play whatever the lanes give him were considered by Fagan as he made this selection. With Scroggins on board, the Motor City Muscle know they can count on solid scores in every game.
4. Ronnie Russell
Ronnie Russell was Fagan's third choice, 21st overall, and gives the Motor City Muscle another powerful, versatile arm who can compete with anybody. Russell has yet to win a PBA Tour title, but he has finished second three times and also owns three PBA Regional titles.
Russell, like Smallwood, was rumored to be on Sean Rash's list of targets. In all likelihood, they were, but Fagan had the foresight to snag them before anybody else could. Fagan will be counting on Russell to give the Muscle consistency and reliability.
5. Jesse Buss
Chosen 28th overall, Jesse Buss is one of the highly regarded youngsters on the PBA Tour. He hasn't yet won a PBA Tour title (although he does possess three PBA Tour Regional titles), but continues to find himself cashing in events, if not advancing to match play as well.
Buss has also bowled well at Thunderbowl, and Fagan probably had that in mind while making the selection. When Buss is on his game, he'll be a huge asset to the Motor City Muscle.
6. Kelly Kulick
Fagan's supplemental pick, 37th overall in the draft, was Kelly Kulick, the only woman to ever win a PBA Tour event, and a major at that, in the 2010 Tournament of Champions. She won four consecutive major titles (the 2009 PBA Women's World Championship, 2010 PBA Tournament of Champions as mentioned, 2010 USBC Queens and 2010 U.S. Women's Open).
Kulick is a force every time she steps up to the line, and when Fagan made this selection, the loudest cheer of the day came from the crowd. It's hard to say exactly why the cheers were so prevalent, but a lot of it was definitely the respect for Kulick and everything she's done in and for bowling.
In case any member from the main Motor City Muscle roster can't compete, they're going to feel extremely confident having Kulick step in.
Note: On January 14, 2013, Kelly Kulick was traded to the New York City WTT KingPins for Brad Angelo and future draft considerations.