Check out what people have to say

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!

Howard Fisher

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!

Ethan Klein


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!

Bob Dickson

Associate Professor of Communication & Communication Department Chair

The Master’s University

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.

Bob Davis

Hall of Fame Radio Broadcaster

University of Kansas Basketball

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.

Greg Herrick Head Women’s Basketball Coach

College of the Canyons

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.

Chuck Young

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.

Jesse Muñoz

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.

Garett Tujague

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.

Gus Alfieri

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

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

Chuck Lyon

Athletic Director & Dean of Physical Education, Kinesiology and Athletics

College of the Canyons

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.

Hailey Star Dowthwaite

Avid reader and youth basketball player

Los Angeles

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.

Annette Fein

The author’s mother-in-law