All Roads Lead to Lawrence

The journey Zeke goes on in this new novel … takes him in directions he (nor readers) could ever imagine emerging at the other end with many questions but more sure of his own ability to find answers. Craig Leener provides young readers with yet another engaging work. (4 stars)


All Roads Lead to Lawrence is the fiction equivalent of a fast break and a slam dunk! Leener takes us on a fun and imaginative ride full of rich characters and fast pivots, and infuses it throughout with pure love of the game.

Film and Television Producer
Academy Award Winner for Monster

Every day, I teach my student athletes that playing college basketball is a metaphor for life. We teach accountability on the court, in the classroom, and in their social life. In All Roads Lead to Lawrence, Zeke’s challenge is to use the lessons learned on the court to overcome obstacles and navigate his way in the real world.

Men’s Head Basketball Coach

I enjoyed the pacing and chapter breaks, which are perfectly segmented with regard to dramatic structure, and I feel the book could be easily adapted for a screenplay. The vivid descriptions of the settings, be they the gymnasium or Zeke’s visitations with the 7th Dimension, lend themselves well to a wide range of visual effects. The universal themes of friendship, loyalty, brotherly love, and sportsmanship are perfectly suited to today’s younger movie-going audience. Those poignant sentiments, coupled with state-of-the-art digital imagery and sound design, would make for a compelling film.

Film Historian and Preservationist
Burbank, California

The friendships, the hardships, the life lessons—it all ties together beautifully, by golly, but this time it really was about basketball, and you’re never going to believe how!

Hall of Fame Radio Broadcaster
University of Kansas Basketball

I had thought that the first book of this series was one of the best books I had ever read, but the sequel is just as interesting, addictive, and captivating as This Was Never About Basketball. I was truly in awe, from the start, all the way to the finish.

Avid reader and youth basketball player
Los Angeles, California

With All Roads Lead to Lawrence, Craig Leener has accomplished what can only be deemed a worthy return to the fantastical, yet fantastically warm and whimsical world of Zeke and his colorful cast of friends and mentors — not the least of which is the venerable Dr. Naismith, still on mission to our world from the mysterious 7th Dimension. This new adventure strikes that elusively delightful balance between playful and thoughtful, and as with his debut book, it does not fail to tickle the senses … and the imagination!

BOB DICKSON Associate Professor of Communication & Communication Department Chair The Master’s University

The story of Zeke shares the conflict, tragedy, and development from teenager to young adulthood. The use of basketball and its history bridges the gap of generations and helps people to appreciate today’s youth. All Roads Lead to Lawrence is a must read!

Head Coach, Youth Men’s Basketball Team for Team USA

Not since I read Bernard Malamud’s The Natural have I enjoyed the character development and irony of a story this much. There were elements that touched my own life — from Coach Kincaid’s decisions, to having a Chip Spears in my corner, to a first girlfriend like Rebecca, to Lawrence’s inspirational and relevant message.

GREG HERRICK Head Women’s Basketball Coach College of the Canyons

In this outstanding follow-up to his debut novel, Leener takes his characters on a moving and inspiring journey that explores friendship with humor and suspenseful twists. It is a magnificent achievement. Imaginative and powerful storytelling … nothing but net!

Vice-Chairman, Vidfilm International Digital

Leener is writing for an untapped market — teenagers and soon-to-be teenagers who like basketball AND books, and he writes in a way that grabs their attention and takes them on a wild and unexpected ride.

MATTHEW LIEBERMAN Author of The Sugarmans and currently writing for TV’s Queen of the South

Craig Leener is a master of distilling complex thoughts into their simplest, most potent form.

Burbank, California

As a songwriter, I strive to use rhythm, dynamics, tone, texture, and form to create music that has emotional impact. In much the same way, propelled by a truly imaginative story and unforgettable characters, Craig Leener has succeeded brilliantly with his second novel.


The author has scored the winning bucket with this intelligent and heartfelt analysis of friendship and redemption. Zeke and his buddies explore the many layers of loyalty, love, and loss as they shoot for answers that are found well beyond a metal basketball hoop.

Author of The Lake of Illumination: Convergence

This book was exciting, funny, and kept me interested. I was surprised by the many twists, and other readers will be as well. All Roads Lead to Lawrence is perfect for any kid who likes basketball, science, and math.

Avid reader and youth basketball player
Murrieta, California

Passion, anguish, and victory — on and off the court — fuel this fascinating tale of Zeke, a community college student athlete with a whole lot going on in his life. There’s no need to be a basketball fan to get a lot out of this book that grabs you by the jersey and doesn’t let go until the final buzzer.

STEPHANIE BLUESTEIN, Ed.D. Associate Professor of Journalism California State University, Northridge

Zeke confronts heartbreak and the ultimate questions of human existence, using the analogy of basketball to make sense of it all. The book has everything from extraterrestrials to consciousness beyond death and telepathic sea creatures, from teamwork and friendship to learning how to give a proper handshake. I was delighted to see Lawrence and his bubblegum show up again, and his new friend Nathan.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

This book was definitely one of the best books I have ever read. I thought this second book went along very well with the first. It picked up the story in a good part and also added a lot of new and exciting events. The ending was also great. I can’t wait for the next book.

Avid reader and youth basketball player
Apex, North Carolina

The author takes us on an exciting journey that enables us to stream into higher states of consciousness and understand what we are and all the probabilities that await us beyond the physicality of human life. It is a feel-great book that invites us to understand that death, as we know it, is nonexistent. All Roads Lead to Lawrence is a magnificently well-written novel.

Meditation Teacher

A marvelous follow-up to its predecessor, All Roads Lead to Lawrence triangulates on the importance of maintaining your passions, developing true friendships, and growing from the obstacles and lessons life throws at you. Zeke’s continued tale of adventure and personal redemption is beautifully set against a real-world backdrop that mixes brilliantly with the game of basketball, the imaginative wonders of theoretical physics, and the power of friendship — all of which gives readers another thrilling ride.

JESSE MUÑOZ Director of Public Relations & Sports Information College of the Canyons

The story of Zeke Archer is a riveting tale of struggle and self-discovery. Every chapter of Zeke’s journey in basketball and in life is engrossing, and I’m looking forward to his next adventure.

Avid reader and high school basketball player
Lawrence, Kansas

Craig Leener offers readers a fascinating glimpse into the world of the 7th Dimension. Here’s a hint: as junior college chess champion Nathan Freeman says in the book, it’s a ballet of the mind.

Children’s Librarian (retired)
Moses Lake, Washington

This Was Never About Basketball

Leener’s novel is unexpectedly powerful, perhaps because you wouldn’t expect a story about sport-stealing aliens to carry such emotional weight. But, as its title suggests, This Was Never About Basketball is focused primarily on the journey and growth of its protagonist, Zeke, and uses this zany plot to help him reach his destination. This is a potent, positively charged novel that has a great message for young adults about the importance of leading by example and owning up to your own shortcomings. (4 stars)

In This Was Never About Basketball, author Craig Leener marvelously marries his knowledge of basketball with his interest in science fiction to create a fun, fascinating read with page-turning action, unexpected plot twists and laugh out loud humor. (Indie Reader Rating: 4.8 out of 5)

While This Was Never About Basketball is very much about basketball, and will most certainly appeal to basketball fans, it is really about coming to terms with what’s important in one’s life, so it can appeal
to a wide gamut of readers. All combined – a stellar cast of characters and a great story – This Was Never About Basketball is a remarkable young adult novel that really is about so much more than basketball. (5 stars)

A modern-day youth basketball journey that brings the history of the game to life while blending the experiences of growing up. Basketball is the sport that extends beyond societal barriers and allows for interaction among the people, including Zeke, Lawrence, the coaches, Dr. Naismith, and even the Entity!

Head Coach
Youth Men’s Basketball Team for Team USA

You needn’t be a basketball expert to be captivated by This Was Never About Basketball. The novel is a charming and magical tale of enduring friendship, unlikely heroes, and finding the courage to do the right thing. This essential book has lessons and heroes that will stick with you for years to come. Leener has created a classic, a slam-dunk!


Created from a magical recipe that includes one part Sci-Fi, two parts basketball, and three parts friendship and adventure, This Was Never About Basketball adds up to a delightful page-turner that’s all heart. Mr. Leener writes with a love for basketball equaled only by his love for spinning a deliciously good yarn. You will fall in love with the characters you’ll meet, and you’ll love even more the crazy places they’ll take you!

Associate Professor of Communication & Communication Department Chair
The Master’s University

I was impressed with the character development of This Was Never About Basketball. Many of the characters reminded me of players I have coached over the years. The book captures the emotions of the young basketball player in all of us and is an insightful look at the journey many players find themselves on as they grapple towards their future. The book is thought-provoking and inspiring — a treat for the true basketball fan.

Head Women’s Basketball Coach
College of the Canyons

A fun story with a few twists. It touches on family, friendship, the great game of basketball, and a bit of the supernatural. A wild ride and read.

Hall of Fame Radio Broadcaster
University of Kansas Basketball

I read the book, This Was Never About Basketball, because it was recommended by a friend who thought I might enjoy it. Knowing it was intended for an audience of teens and even pre-teens, I took a look, partially out of curiosity. I was pleasantly surprised. It was an interesting read, with a lot of humor and surprises. It was, in a way, a mystery novel with an interesting, twisting plot. Perhaps more importantly, it was well written and kept the attention of this 85-year-old. I recommend it to pre-teens, teens, and their dads, as well.

Chancellor Emeritus

An exhilarating tale of adventure, excitement, friendship, and redemption, set against the backdrop of the game we all love. Leener does a magnificent job telling a modern coming-of-age story chock full of the types of real-world issues and circumstances facing today’s youth. Joining Zeke and his crew on this thrilling adventure will deepen any young person’s love and understanding of the game of basketball, while also providing more seasoned readers with a renewed appreciation for the sport and the role it played in their childhood.

Director of Public Relations & Sports Information
College of the Canyons

Our actions, or in other words, our choices, have consequences, both good and bad. I love how Leener shows the struggle between both. He uses the lessons learned in the game of basketball and applies them to the game of life — teamwork, problem solving, and leadership.

Offensive Line Coach
University of Virginia Football

The book brings a unique approach to the dilemmas that scholastic athletes often face. Zeke Archer in his own way finds that solution while entertaining the reader.

Author of Lapchick: The Life of a Legendary Player and Coach in the Glory Days of Basketball and The Heart of a Champion

The book was amazing in every single way. There was so much detail in every page that I couldn’t put it down. I love how the author built up the suspense to the point where I had to start biting my nails. This is definitely a book every kid should read because they could learn a few life lessons. This book is definitely the best book I’ve ever read, and I’d definitely like to see a sequel for the book or even just another book from this author.

Avid reader and youth basketball player
Los Angeles

Tee it up and let the big dog eat! If you like sports and the human experience, you will love this book!

Athletic Director & Dean of Physical Education, Kinesiology and Athletics
College of the Canyons

This Was Never About Basketball is fabulous! I couldn’t put it down and have never finished a book so quickly. My husband started it yesterday, and I’m sure he will love it as well. I look forward to seeing it in the movies.

The author’s mother-in-law