Craig Leener

This Was Never About Basketball

Lawrence Tuckerman is a fan of probabilities — well, any numbers and math, really. It’s an interest that goes hand-in-hand with his autism. It’s also how he met his best friend Zeke, who is off fulfilling his dream of playing basketball at the University of Kansas. Now Lawrence expects his life in Los Angeles to become even less social and more routine — just the way he likes it. He plans to finish high school as he pursues his own far-off dream of manning Earth’s first mission to Mars . . .

Then the improbable happens: Lawrence is recruited for a top-secret mission of cosmic proportions! The whole operation relies on him realizing the full potential of his 1-in-6-billion mind — without freaking out. The rocket-science math is a no-brainer, but is he made of the right stuff to manage the communication and cooperation of a team effort . . . without his best friend?

This Was Never About Basketball

Seventeen-year-old high school basketball star Ezekiel “Zeke” Archer has it all: a sweet jump shot, a full-ride scholarship to a Midwestern basketball powerhouse, and the brightest future. But when Zeke’s temper gets the better of him in the city championship, he is expelled from school, has to forfeit his scholarship, and is left to ponder his once-hopeful future.

While finishing his final high school days in the California educational system’s version of purgatory, Zeke makes a stunning discovery. With the help of a young autistic classmate Zeke befriends, he learns that the mysterious 7th Dimension, which brought basketball to Earth more than a century ago, has decided to take the game away for good — all because of the ugly event Zeke set into motion in his final game!

As he embarks on the ultimate cross-country road trip to save basketball, Zeke must confront his unsettled past — including a father he’s not heard from in years and a brother fighting in a war half a world away — in order to set his life on the right path and rescue the game he loves.

In this sequel to This Was Never About basketball, a few months have passed since Zeke Archer saved basketball from extinction after the 7th Dimension — the otherworldly entity that brought the game to Earth in 1891 — tried to take it away for good. Now Zeke is settling into life after high school, leading his team and running the point at Jefferson Community College. And there, on his home court, is where this strange tale begins . . .

Tragedy strikes close to Zeke’s heart, and his world slowly begins to crumble around him. But when he receives a mysterious message that could only have originated from another realm, Zeke begins a journey like no other.

Flanked by his trusted friend Lawrence — a math whiz who might have just discovered a top-secret inter-dimensional portal — Zeke crosses paths with a drop-kicking rugby aficionado, a sage and telepathic sea creature, and the possible inventor of basketball, all in the quest to find the true meaning of love, loss, and friendship, on and off the court.

In this thrilling conclusion to the bestselling trilogy, teen hoops star zeke archer is ready to fulfill a lifelong dream: running point for the best college basketball team in the country! But on what should be the best day of his life, things take a horrible turn. Zeke’s truck has been completely dismantled, leaving him with no way to drive to a university 1,600 miles away. His on-again, off-again girlfriend has written him a letter that can only be heart-crushing. And Zeke’s father is in critical condition, hanging on by thread in the VA hospital . . .

But to make matters absolutely worse, Zeke’s nemesis and archrival Brock Decker is suddenly rich and famous–and appears responsible for a most insidious plan to alter the future of basketball’s history. With barely any time to fix things, Zeke, together with his best friend Lawrence, will somehow have to break interdimensional barriers of time and space to return to the very spot where the game he loves was invented, all in an attempt to undo everything. But if the clock runs out, Zeke Archer and everything he loves will be gone!

Craig Leener grew up on the hardscrabble basketball courts of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, California.

Despite being relatively earthbound most of the time, Craig has long maintained a keen interest in space travel. Of course, he’s also a big fan of basketball, having immersed himself in the game since his youth as a player, coach, referee, fan and, later in life, as a sportswriter.

Craig has an above-average ability to go to his left and maintains a solid perimeter jumper. His free-throw percentage on his backyard home court is an implausible 87 percent — and to this day, that number remains 100-percent unverified. And what the author lacks in foot speed, leaping ability and defense, he more than makes up for in court smarts and postgame snacks.

Craig is a lifelong opponent of the instant replay in sports. He maintains this contrarian point of view because of the intrinsic value he places on the human element’s potential to influence the outcome of athletic competition, inadvertently or otherwise.

Craig holds degrees from Los Angeles Valley College and California State University, Northridge. He sits on the board of directors of CSUN’s Journalism Alumni Association and serves as the organization’s director of scholarships.

Craig worked for many years in the entertainment industry in film operations, postproduction technical services and human resources management before finding his true calling as a sportswriter and young-adult novelist.

Although Craig possesses an innate curiosity about what might reside beyond the heavens, he lives in the suburbs of Los Angeles with his truly otherworldly wife, Andrea.

“There’s No Basketball on Mars” is Craig’s fourth young-adult novel, following the publication of the “Zeke Archer Basketball Trilogy.” The author and his publishing company, Green Buffalo Press, will donate a portion of royalties from the new book to Exceptional Minds, an academy and studio that prepares young adults on the autism spectrum for careers in animation, visual effects, 3D gaming, and other related fields in the entertainment industry. The organization is headquartered in Los Angeles.

March Madness Arrives Early!

“KPR Presents” producer Kaye McIntyre sits down with three noted basketball authors to take a deep dive into the game for Kansas Public Radio. Run time is 8:33.

Interview: Rock Chalk Sports Talk

Rock Chalk Sports Talk host Nick Schwerdt goes 1-on-1 with Craig Leener on KLWN 1320 AM and 101.7 FM on November 9, 2017. Schwerdt is also the pregame/postgame host on the Jayhawk IMG Sports Network for its coverage of University of Kansas basketball. Run time is 10:25.

By the Numbers: 2 Interviews, 1 Hall of Fame Coach

August 12, 2017–UCLA coaching legend John Wooden did not grant an abundance of interviews. As you would expect, sportswriters working the beat for Los Angeles-based newspapers in the 1960s and 1970s were given regular access during the basketball season, but Wooden generally shied away from the press in favor of protecting his . . . (Read More)

Hey, That Guy Didn’t Call “Bank”

June 21, 2017–For folks who once played basketball at the high school level, an essential part of the experience, at least while living in Los Angeles in the 1970s, was summer league. If you were to Google the phrase “life doesn’t get any better than this,” there’s a better-than-even chance you’d find . . . (Read More)