Question & Answer

Small Fry Basketball

Small Fry Basketball is a developmental, yet competitive youth basketball program available to youngsters throughout the United States, South America and Puerto Rico.

The game is for shorter athletes. Players may be no taller than 5-foot-1 and may not be older than 12 as of Sept. 1 the year immediately prior to the competition season (January through Easter). A smaller-than-regulation basketball is used and rims are eight feet, six inches from the ground. Some areas also offer “rookie” programs with a smaller height limit and younger age limit.

The sources are many, although some include local park districts, school-affiliated teams, independently-sponsored teams and those associated with Boys and Girls Clubs or other youth organizations. Those interested in starting a franchise should check out the Small Fry Promotional video and PowerPoint Presentation.

You may obtain an informational packet by contacting Executive Director Jeff Milkie via mail at Small Fry Basketball, 8552 37th Avenue, Kenosha, WI 53142, on the phone at (262) 945-0605, or through email at Promotional videos are also available to help familiarize people with the program. Additionally, contacts may be made through local commissioners.

It depends on the goals of the franchise. For a team getting started that just plans to play local tournaments without major travel expenses, a budget of $2,500-$3,500 may suffice. Franchises will also want to take advantage of sponsors and donations. For teams that incorporate overnight trips and ultimately a visit to the International or Consolation Tournament in Orlando, the budget may run as high as $20,000 to $25,000.

The onetime official measurement will be administered by a committee composed of members of the Executive Board. Players lie flat in an official measuring box.

Small Fry Basketball began in 1968 with a group of dedicated youth leaders in Chicago Heights, Ill. The organization hosted its first International Tournament in 1969 in Chicago Heights. Although many of the original franchises were based in the Midwest, Small Fry quickly branched east to New York, west to Lincoln, Neb. and south to Seminole, Fla. Outside of the Continental United States, Small Fry has always been strong in Puerto Rico and has had participants from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and Bermuda as well.

Following official measure-in that occurs in the same time frame for all teams (early to mid-February), qualifying tournaments are held in each region. Teams are allotted based on the total number of franchises from each region. Twenty-four teams annually will advance to a chance for bids in the International Tournament.

Small Fry offers a “Consolation Tournament,” which is also held at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World® Resort. The Consolation  Tournament is designed for newcomers, hardship cases, promotional opportunities and for some traditional strong supporters of Small Fry that don’t make the grade for the International Tournament. Additionally, Small Fry invites teams and leagues from new areas— both on a recreational level and a “growing” level where teams are building and working toward qualifying for the International Tournament.

Current NBA standout Devon Dotson (Homewood) of the Chicago Bulls, and recent NBA players Tyler Ulis (Chicago Heights, Phoenix Suns), Jose Barea (Torrimar) and Will Bynum (West Pullman Runners, Detroit Pistons) got their starts in Small Fry Basketball, as well as former NBA standouts Charley Scott (New York), Chris Quinn (Highwood), Nick Van Exel (Kenosha, Wis.), Kenny Anderson (New York), Craig Hodges and Lloyd Walton (both Chicago Heights, Ill.). Highwood, Ill. product Veltra Dawson played on Villanova’s NCAA Champion team and Homewood, Ill. has produced two NFL quarterbacks in Donovan McNabb and Mike Tomczak, formerly with the Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears.

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