Arizona State-born Peter Yankowski is a standout basketball player in high school. Peter’s father, Andy, was on the Arizona State basketball team back in the day and Peter’s grandfather played in the NBA. Sounds like a recipe for college-bound greatness. But Arizona high school hoops are just for show.
Only a couple years ago, Peter was enjoying his senior year as a 6’9″ forward for a small private Christian school in Arizona. But then, because of Nick Maloof, owner of the Sacramento Kings, 10th grade sports were introduced, and eventually its 31st annual all-star basketball game. The game is a high-profile event that is televised live by the CW cable station in the Pacific Northwest.
Peter is now a 6’10” wing who decided to transfer to a ‘Big 12’ school (head coach earns more college credit, of course) with higher academic standards. An invasion of powerhouses of the Pac-12, Cal and Oregon, (Cal has made the NCAA Tournament and Oregon came within a tip of making it) is rapidly beginning to dampen Pete’s enthusiasm to play for his old college team. Things do not seem so good when his transfer is costing him hundreds of dollars per month in in-state tuition, which is allowing him to play for his all-star team and get a slew of playing time for it while sitting out high school.
The Maloofs had other plans, besides simply paying him and the other basketball players dearly to play hoops and then shave millions off of their net worth later. No. They saw Pete as an entry point into their new enterprise, Headway CourtTelevision. This is another television production company that is run by the Maloofs, this one for cutting edge basketball. (Please don’t make fun of the word “cut”. Yes, it’s very much like ESPN.) The point of this was to give sports fans a wholesome youth basketball experience. In addition to the games the ‘Saints’ provide a chance for fans to watch and shout about the action in high-speed live HD during a “Monte Carlo.” The success of the first high school production of Headway CourtTelevision was beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. For example, the screen time for each announcer is an average of 2.5 minutes, and there is a bit of celebrity competition taking place where announcers cannot be louder than the next person. These “challenges” are drawn out, like dance contests, so that only the loudest voices win. This is what gives Pete Yankowski a chance to have fun with his new digs. Besides “SportsCenter” and “GameDay”, the other sportscaster who visits him now is Larry Fitzgerald, who is on the television broadcast nearly every week from Topeka, Kansas, where his Alma Mater was Kansas State University. For all he knows, he could be the first of many celebrities to follow the same path.
Are you optimistic about youth basketball or so pessimistic that it’s a joke?
One little positive story did make its way out from behind the Internet web. Miami Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland recently attended an all-star contest at the high school level. There he played alongside 6’11” defensive end Calvin Peete, who impressed his teammates and the audience by leaping a few feet above the rim and delivering a massive blocked shot. The 6’7″ corner in the photo is New York Giants’ great, Harry Carson. Unfortunately, Peete lost the game, and Ireland, whose basketball game abilities are often compared to that of Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., failed to become the first person to ever fail the height test for a boy or a girl in a basketball game!