Publication Date: September 6, 2022
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Ages 8 to 12, Grades 3 to 7
Former NBA all-star Caron Butler and acclaimed author Justin A. Reynolds tip off a middle grade series in which each book centers on a different young member of an AAU basketball team coached by a former NBA star in his hometown. In the first book, Tony must work to make the team while dealing with the tragedy of his friend’s death.
Tony loves basketball. But the game changed recently when his best friend, Dante, a hoops phenom and the kid he looked up to the most, was killed by a police officer. Tony and his community—Oasis Springs—are dealing with the grief, even as justice for his friend seems fleeting. Tony hopes he can carry on Dante’s legacy by making the Sabres, the AAU basketball team Dante took to two national championships.The Sabres are one of the best teams around—after all, not every team has a former NBA all-star as its coach. Coach James likes what he sees from Tony at tryouts, but he still doesn’t make the team. Tony takes the devastating news hard until Coach James offers him another chance: join the team as the statistician.Tony has a sharp mind for the game, and with help from Kiara, Coach James’s daughter, he makes an impact in this new role, even if it’s hard watching his friends play. As the team finds its stride, Tony faces another setback—the officer who killed his friend will be back on the job. With his community reeling and the team just finding its footing on the court, can Tony find a path to healing while helping to bring the Sabres a championship?
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