Ones Basketball League (OBL) — the first-ever elite competition that celebrates the most skilled one-on-one players on the planet and created by Basketball Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady — crowned its third Regional Champion at Chicago Hope Academy Athletic Center on Saturday and Sunday. A total of 32 top area and national-level basketball players squared off in spirited action, and it was Mario Smith (Kalamazoo, Mich.), Yoshi Craig (Chicago) and Grant Anderson (Chicago) who took the top three places in a weekend filled with exciting and high-quality play across the board.
Smith, the OBL (@oblhoops) Chicago Regional Champion and recipient of the $10,000 prize, was seeded fourth after a 6-1 record on Saturday. He won the Championship match, 9-8, over Craig, making two free throws to ice the win. Anderson’s buzzer-beater over Armani Chaney earned the former Cornell (Ind.) College and Homewood-Flossmoor (Ill.) high school standout third place. All three now advance to the OBL Finals in Las Vegas this summer (dates and location TBA).
“The Chicago event was another strong step forward for us and further proof that OBL will help these athletes get known and noticed,” said McGrady. “The energy on the court was intense and the fans made themselves part of the show. Chicago brought the love for OBL and we are grateful.”
Smith, 30, the only non-local player at the OBL Chicago Regional, competed at Glen Oaks CC in Michigan, and his pro career has included stints in Mexico and the Mid-Michigan Spartans. He now trains basketball players of all ages.
“I drove back and forth last night once I knew I’d make it through,” said Smith, who traveled 2.5 hours each way, both days, to participate. “The level of competition was really strong and it was a grind but it’s very gratifying to advance.”
Craig, 28, played at Iowa Central and Kennedy-King College.
“It’s great to make it to Las Vegas,” said Craig. “I was disappointed to lose on free throws, but the two days showed that this is a concept that will work and can grow. I’m looking forward to repping Chicago in July.”
After a successful debut event in Houston (April 30-May 1) and follow-ups in Atlanta (May 7-8) and Chicago, OBL’s next regional event is Saturday and Sunday, May 28-29 at the Major R. Owens Community Center hosted by New Heights, Brooklyn, New York.
Following New York, the remainder of the regional schedule is as follows:
• The DMV, June 4-5 (The St. James, Springfield, VA)
• Los Angeles, TBD (TBD)
The winner of each regional tournament will take home a $10,000 cash prize along with an invitation to the Finals, which will see 18 players (the top three from each region) compete for a chance to win a $250,000 grand prize and be crowned “Ruler of the Court.”
OBL media partners include SLAM Media, Playmaker, and Heart and Hustle Productions.
Follow Ones Basketball League at https://www.oblhoops.com/.