This is only my 3rd year living in Cincinnati, and the first thing I learned was that Cinci loves their sports! Luckily so do I. With there being a couple Division 1 schools, pro soccer, football, baseball and even a semi pro hockey team, it had me thinking what else could there be to add to the Cincinnati sports world?
The Smith League was founded in 2018 with the mindset to inspire youth on and off the basketball court. This season they featured 24 teams competing in a seed schedule and then a tournament for a championship trophy. The closest thing I could think to explain and compare to what was being done to a casual basketball fan is the high profile “Drew League” where they mix talent levels of mainly collegiate and pro players to compete at high levels in a organized setting.
While learning more about the sports world of Cincinnati I finally got the chance to attend my first couple of games for The Smith League at Purcell Marian High School and it literally felt like I stumbled upon a gem in the city! There were casual basketball fans there (like me), family, local sports players all enjoying competitive basketball.
I always say a Pro Am League is a very organized Rec league, but to push a Pro Am League to that next level, you need to be organized, have high quality branding and talent. Check all those boxes for The Smith League.
Their Instagram (@thesmithleague) brought me in with the flashy highlight tapes, and aesthetically pleasing photos. And the uniforms! The uniforms were well put together and mainly featured local sponsors. Being a small business ourselves you have to appreciate that.
Actually being at the games you get to take in all of what you see online in real time, and really see all of the work that has been put into this product. The music being played, the players getting hype on the sideline, and randomly seeing someone get dunked on was everything I needed. Me being the basketball fan that I am I also recognized many players and even got to see some players that caught me off guard seeing them in a random high school gym in Cincinnati.
To name a few, Carlik Jones (Mavericks), Isaiah Miller (Timberwolves), AJ Miller (Pro), Cholo Anonuevo, Jalen Hearn (NAIA record holder) and Jarron Cumberland (Pro). Also the now 2nd year pro for the Oklahoma City Thunder Darius Bazley made some appearances. The talent level in this league was great and getting the chance to witness it in person, I instantly left feeling like more people need to hear about this!
As any league, it ended with the championship game. But the championship game wasn’t the only thing that happened that night with a slam dunk contest and a Women’s all star game that featured players like gold medalist KK Bransford and even a halftime performance by local music artists.
After my experience I hope to visit The Smith League every year for now on to enjoy up and coming talent around basketball fans with hopes it can continue to put Cincinnati on the map. This season was a huge success for the team behind it and I hope they know they have something to be very proud of. I encourage anyone that’s a basketball fan to pay attention to The Smith League now, before you have to be lucky to even get a seat in the gym.
Photos and Video Courtesy of Instagram: www.instagram.com/thesmithleague
The Smith League
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