What makes the Skinz League so special?

There’s the Drew League in Los Angeles that draws several NBA and overseas basketball players to the court, then you have the New Drew called the Skinz League in Oklahoma City, OK that’s gaining tons of notoriety as a reputable pro-am itself.

This league is different because it’s in Oklahoma. For those that aren’t aware, Oklahoma isn’t a premier destination for someone that isn’t born and raised here. The Drew League (Los Angeles), the Goodman League (D.M.V.), Nike’s Pro City Run (New York City), San Francisco’s Pro-Am, and the AEBL (Atlanta) are all located in popular locations, where people make plans to visit. The Skinz League is fighting an uphill battle and doing pretty well.

Yes, NBA players like Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks, as well as Terrance Ferguson, Deonte Burton, and Darius Bazley of the Oklahoma City Thunder have played in the Skinz, but that’s not what makes the league so special.

Local NBA players will always be a money-making draw and will provide an entertainment factor to the league, but the inclusion of Division I college players and overseas players is what makes the Skinz League so special.

While Trae Young has always been exciting to watch play, it’s clear that his heart isn’t really in those Skinz games, which is understandable. Why would an NBA player risk losing a multi-million dollar deal for this? Last week, it was evident that Young may have played at 25 percent of his potential in a very close game. In that close game, who hit the big shots down the stretch? Local, overseas players like James Woodard, and Carlbe Ervin.

A week later, and the only thing that changed was the NBA player that was in attendance. Buddy Hield, former University of Oklahoma standout, and Sacramento Kings guard that is fresh off an NBA 3-point competition title came to play in Oklahoma City on Wednesday. Buddy’s Kings teammate and former Edmond Santa Fe Wolf, and Tulsa Hurricane Daquan Jeffries played as well, on the opposing team. While there was an obvious talent gap between Hield, Jeffries, and the next-best player, this league is special because of what ‘the regulars’ bring to the table.

“Skinz League is a great opportunity for pros and all athletes in the city to stay in shape and play against the best competition,” said Woodard. “It also showcases the talent that Oklahoma has.”

Woodard sees this from the perspective of a player, but he may not notice that names like his, Irvin, Omega Harris, Curran Scott, Mahlon Jones, Marvin Johnson and more are the ones that set the stage and bring the real excitement to the Hive (the court where the Skinz League is held) two days out of the week.

Regardless of how popular this league gets, no matter how many celebrities walk into the Hive to watch these games, and no matter how many NBA superstars play on that floor, it’ll be the local athletes that we grew up playing with, against or just watch play with that’ll forever define the Skinz League.

Addam M. Francisco

Founder & Editor-in-Chief. National Association of Black Journalists. University of Central Oklahoma.

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