If you can't wait for the NBA to restart on July 31st, check out the Skinz League. Started by Chris Skinner in 2015, the Skinz League has been providing association talent a place to play in the offseason.
Some of the more notable names include Trae Young, Deonte Burton, Semaj Christon, and most recently, the Thunder's Darius Bazley suited up for a game. Skinnier spent his youth growing up between Douglas Georgia and Mangum Oklahoma, he played basketball at Western Oklahoma State College for a couple of years, then had a family.
Skinner's love for hoops didn't stop after his college days, he participated in pro-am leagues, and that is where he made his NBA connections. "If you know anything about the basketball world, if one player's doing it, the other players will do it." ...."So if I get one big-time player, it's kind of like now, people see Trae [Young] playing, so now I'm getting calls all the time about this guy's trying to play."
Bazley won't be playing in anymore Skinz League games, because the Thunder are about to resume their season. However, when Bazley showed up at the Hive in Edmond, it was a surprise.
Skinner had no heads up that he would be in uniform on Monday night, but, because there are pros in the Skinz league now, nobody was starstruck. Awaiting Bazley and his crew were Christion, Tyrus McGee, and Chauncey Collins.
Skinner saw a lot of "trash" basketball in Oklahoma City league's as he puts it there would be three or four good teams, and everybody else would get beat by 30. To remedy this situation, Skinner would hang out at the gyms, "pick off" teams, then wait for the NBA season to end while recruiting players who were coming back stateside after finishing their seasons overseas.
Not only is he able to get the best talent in the area, he and his panel of five scouts, are having to turn players away. "We go do our research if you ain't got no numbers where you go to college, or you didn't go to college, we'll tell you Nah you ain't ready for it this year."
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If you desire to play in the Skinz League, Skinner says it doesn't hurt to have an NBA player's recommendation. To give you an idea of just how competitive this league is, 43 professional players are participating in this year's league; last year, Skinner had 67.
Those numbers are going to grow over the next couple of seasons as Skinner, and Ray Young [Trae Young's father] work with the NBA to sanction the league. Skinner's vision is to see his league grow to be bigger than Los Angeles's Drew League.
Paul George, James Harden, and LeBron James have all competed in the Drew Leauge, and it's those kinds of names Skinner is hoping to attract once the NBA sanctions the Skinz League. "I think it's more impressive what I'm doing down here because you don't see people with summer houses in Oklahoma."
The league lasts 10 weeks, but as Skinner will tell you, pros will pop in and out depending on their schedules. Skinner is also mindful of what it means for kids to get the opprautinty to see a player like Young, that's why he keeps his prices $3 for kids and $5 for adults.
If you're in the area, games take place Monday and Wednesday nights starting at 6:30, at the Hive in Edmond on 14440 Lincoln Blvd. Can't make it to Oklahoma City? Skinz Leauge has a YouTube and is also available on Live Barn.
And be prepared to have fun, Skinner says the trash-talking comes mostly from the fans, which is one of the reasons players like it so much. "It brings you back to when you were a kid." ...."You ain't playing in an arena you're playing in front of five-six hundred people."
The prize for winning the Skinz League championship is a WWE style belt, no cash prizes, so any college players that participate, don't risk losing their eligibility. We're all jonesing, and the NBA will be here soon enough, but until July 31st, Chris Skinner and Trae Young are giving us high-quality basketball to fill that void.
Youtube video provided by JRC Media