Mekhi “Fly-Khi” Williams was the first pick in San Quentin’s 2019 Championship Basketball League (CBL) draft.
“It’s a cool feeling, being picked number one,” Williams said. “Now I gotta show and prove.”
Aaron “Showtime” Taylor created the CBL, which provides a positive activity for the incarcerated. Players of all skill levels and ages are drafted in rounds to ensure fairness and inclusion.
On Oct. 5, draft night, 10 coaches circled Taylor and CBL Referee James “Aka Tech” Carr in one corner of the prison gym. Each coach studied a list of available players. Seven draft rounds placed the players on their respective teams in the four- on-four league.
“Team Skills” coach Jamal Harrison had the first pick of draft. He smiled and used it to snatch Williams.
“We got a relationship deeper than basketball,” Williams said about his new coach. “‘Mal was the first to take me in and give me knowledge on how to run my program as a first-termer.”
At 6 feet 1 inch and 210 pounds, the 21-year-old Williams is a Sacramento native. After moving to San Diego, he averaged 25 points-per- game as a freshman on the varsity team at Balboa Prep high school. There Williams played with Deandre Ayton, a longtime friend that the Phoenix Suns picked number one in the 2018 NBA draft.
Coach Jerry “JB” Brown picked San Quentin Warrior Jesse Blue second in the draft.
“My team was built not on talent, but on character – good guys that will buy into work- ing together to win,” Brown said.
Brown said he has 30 years coaching experience including coaching LeBron James when he played for the Oakland Soldiers in the Excellent Basketball Organization sponsored by Adidas in Las Vegas from 2008-2009.
The league for 17 and under also featured Deshaun Stevenson and the Lopez twins. Brown describes his proudest coaching moment as training his son who ended up play- ing pro overseas. Now Brown aims to make Blue the best player in the league.
“I really appreciate the opportunity to work with young men,” Brown said. “If I can help somebody get through the day, I accomplished something.”
Brown’s sentiments are exactly what the CBL is all about. “The CBL has been around since 2007, but now it gets compared to Ice Cube’s ‘Big Three’ –which I don’t mind,” said Taylor with a grin. “The main thing is to have fun as well as exercise sportsmanship.”