Wichita has a new professional basketball team, the Midtown Prestige and they kick off their season this weekend at their home court Charles Koch Arena on Wichita State University campus. The Prestige, with Tyler O’Quinn, team market owner, are part of The Basketball League, which is considered a third-tier professional basketball league. The league, which was formed in 2018, has grown from eight teams in its inaugural season to 25 teams this year spread across the United States. The Prestige are a part of the league’s Southern region, which includes Texas teams from Houston, Waco, Lewisville, and Dallas. Other teams in the region include Shreveport, LA; Little Rock, AR; and Enid, OK.
“We are thrilled to have the great city of Wichita in TBL family,” says Evelyn Magley, TBL CEO. “The love for basketball is strong and Tyler’s passion for his community is powerful. That combination will make for an entertaining & impactful experience for all”
THIS IS PRO BALL
This is not semi-pro team; this is professional basketball says O’Quinn. “No longer will we stand by and let Wichita call professional basketball ‘semi-pro,’” he said. He says being called “semi-pro” has a negative connotation that takes the well-deserved attention away from hard-working athletes. League players are former college players, some of them from Division I schools, with some players having overseas professional ball experience and some with time in the NBA.
EXPECT A SHOW as a team, says player Lee Anthony McLeroy, one of the Wichita based Tyler O’Quinn is the team market owner of the Midtown Prestige “It’s a good opportunity for everyone,” says forward Mike Zeno. “These last few weeks we’ve been getting a lot of skill work in.” Zeno, of Beaumont, TX, says that the team is extremely focused on the first games scheduled for this weekend. The 12-man roster of players, consist of five out-of-town players with the rest of the players having local ties. They’ve been practicing as a team during the last three weeks. In those few weeks, they’ve really jelled members of the team. “It started off slow because we were still getting acclimated, knowing who we are,” says McLeroy. “Now, we feel locked in. We feel like a team and we feel like we can trust each other.” With quality play, the team members are hoping to earn the community’s support. “If we go out there and show that we’re not professional or we’re not good enough … and we don’t give them a show, who’s gonna come back to watch us, who’s going to be a fan?” McLeroy said. “So if we give out that show, then it’s going to bring more people.” So, it seems the message is, expect a show from this high-energy league.
The games consist of four 12-minute quarters and they follow FIBA rules, which according to the rule book allows players to take the ball off the rim and for defensive players to stay in the lane longer than three seconds. The 24 -game season includes 12 home games and 12 away. The teams first four games are at home. They play on the road the whole month of May, but they’re back in town for most of June.
Following the team’s premiere game against the Omaha Finest on Sat., April 10 at 3 p.m., they’re back the next day, Sun., April 11, for a 7 p.m. game against the Houston Push. The next weekend, the team have another Saturday/Sunday combo. With their Sat., April 17 game against the Lewisville Leopards and the Sun., April 18, game against the Dallas Skyline.
Individual tickets to the game are $15 each, with tickets for students, senior and military $7 each. Tickets for groups of 10 or more can be purchased for $50 each. Tickets can be purchased in advance through the WSU ticket box or at the door.
For online tickets go to https://goshockers.com/sports/tickets click on tickets on the toolbar and then Midtown basketball.
AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THE PLAYERS
O’Quinn sees the league as an opportunity for advancement for these players. “The league is not meant for players to stay here and live here and be here for years to come. It’s made almost like, a junior college and you get your film, you get your stats, and let’s go find you guys better opportunities,” said O’Quinn. “We give them a three-month season in the middle of the summer and … they can continue to do the work that the Lord put on their heart which is playing the game of basketball. O’Quinn and the players are excited about their upcoming season. “Our players are overly excited about the opportunity to play pro basketball,” says O’Quinn. “I hope the city takes us as serious as we do.”