Rarely a day goes by during the summer when you cannot find a group of young basketball players hooping it up on the blacktop. From sun-up to sundown, aspiring young athletes work up a feverish sweat as they attempt to perfect their skills and abilities. In order to test progress and help in that growth, they have to play the game against aspiring young stars. That is just what Steve Oakes and the Competitive Basketball League (CBL) have in mind. Formerly the Kingwood Competitive Basketball League, Oakes and partner Rusty Odom have opened up the opportunity to all surrounding areas. Oakes is a college ref for Division I basketball and Odom is a former All American from Kingwood High School and went on to play for UCLA at the pro level. The CBL is a nonprofit organization, funded completely by registration fees, that strives to help develop the youth talent of the area. Not to be thought of as a select league, the CBL is open to all players from K-12th grade. “We offer positive leagues for kids of all ages to help them become a more well-rounded player,” Oakes said. In the past, the league has offered winter, spring and fall leagues with the winter league being the most popular, as more than 800 young players sign up for that season. Due to demand and inquiries from graduating high school players and returning college hoopsters, the CBL has decided to create a summer league for the first time. “We had a lot of players who have played in our leagues before and asked if there was a place they could continue playing when they came home for the summer,” Oakes said. The summer league starts in June and continues into July. Each team will play one or two games a week and most games will be played on the weekends, taking a break for the Fourth of July. All games will be played at The GYM in Humble. Oakes and Odom strive to keep the league as fair and balanced as possible. Each team has mandatory substitutions every five minutes, ensuring that everyone gets to play. Tryouts and drafts are held so teams cannot be stacked with talent and succeeding in education is also emphasized. “We have a CBL Al-Academic team for players who get all As and Bs throughout the school year,” Oakes said. “In fact, 84 percent of our players qualified last year.” The CBL also offers programs for those interested in refereeing games. The junior referee program teaches the rules of the games and trains participants in how to maintain control over the game and the environment. “There is always a referee shortage, so this program has helped produce some much needed whistle-blowers,” Oakes said. Oakes and Odom believe that the key to success on the basketball courts comes from starting them out young. Their middle school leagues are by far the largest and the fall and spring seasons are best for those just starting out. All the seasons correspond with school calendars so there are no conflicts for those involved in extracurricular activities. Registration is currently under way for the inaugural summer season. For more information or to register your aspiring athlete, go to www.cbball.com or call 281-812-9052. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Photo: Now players like James Nichols (left) and Sydney Stephens (right) can transfer their game from the blacktop to the hardwood thanks to the new CBL Summer League. Photo by Heather Orton

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