Women's Basketball Development Association takes the court in 2019

by Greg Cobb

"A bridge between college and the professional level."

Those were the words of William Kelly, owner/CEO of the new Women's Basketball Development Association (WBDA), as he announced the league's plan to start play in 2019 as the "best platform (for development) in the industry".

Kelly recently purchased the former Women's Blue Chip Basketball League (WBCBL), a league that has been around since 2005, from Willie McCray. The founder of the WBCBL, McCray recently penned a letter to teams, players, sponsors and fans saying goodbye and conveying confidence in the change, stating the new team "has the vision and resources to lead the league on the continual construction of solid principles, on which, the league was founded."

Kelly's plan is "to continue the success and history of the original women’s basketball development league... while adding value and support to team owners and players".

McCray knows the new leadership team well. Kelly's most recent venture into team ownership, the Grand Rapids Galaxy, spent the past two seasons in the WBCBL, where they ran middle of the pack this past season after a stellar 2017.

Originally from Kalamazoo, MI, Kelly's background in marketing, finance and sports management allowed him to see the former league's endless possibilities from many different angles, not just as team owner.

"There are a ton of colleges across the county with thousands of women players graduating every year that are looking for opportunities to continue playing AND go pro. We are here to provide those opportunities and be a bridge between college and the professional level."

Kelly's love for basketball and passion to grow the game were the driving force behind acquiring the league, building the infrastructure and planning the upcoming inaugural season of the WBDA.

His words ring true to his actions,

"I'm hoping to increase the number of players we send pro every year. I also look for the WBDA to be a dominant factor in women's basketball."

Previously, the WBCBL had teams up and down the East Coast, throughout the Midwest and a Southwest division in places like Baltimore, Atlanta, Dallas, Cleveland, Phoenix, Los Angeles and, of course, Grand Rapids. We'll have to wait and see where the WBDA will set up shop in 2019, as league meetings are currently taking place in Chicago, IL. We know of a handful of locations already, as the league is in the midst of team enrollment.


Kelly has surrounded himself with team of professionals that are sure to take the WBDA to great heights.

Darnell Hollis, the former GM of the Grand Rapids Galaxy, moves into the role of Association Commissioner. Hollis spent the last two seasons with the Galaxy and brings 20+ years of sales and business business management to a role in which he'll be looked upon to provide teams and players with a platform to succeed and ownership groups the continued opportunity to increase revenue.

2018 Tennessee Christian Chamber of Commerce “Community Impact Award in the area of Education” winner Renee Bobb has been hired as the Director of Training & Development. A successful business coach, Bobb will focus on helping owners maximize their opportunities with business development training.

Dr. Kevin Butler, Ph.D. and his 40+ years in basketball have been brought in as the Director of Pro Player Development & Scouting. Dr. Butler has helped nearly 200 professional players and has worked in the NBA, ABA, CBA, IBL, NWBA, and USBL. When you hear of the WBDA's draft combine, the workouts for International scouts and the All-Star Game, credit Dr. Butler's work to advance the careers of so many players throughout the years.

Violators beware! US Navy veteran Laschelle Brown takes the lead as Director of Code & Ethics. Brown's responsibilities include assisting teams to stay compliant, implementing rules and creating a strong platform of unity within the WBDA.

Taking charge of leading girls and women to empower themselves through sports is Bernell Hooker, Director of Community Engagement. Owner of the Milwaukee Aces and founder/CEO of Images of Us (IOU) Sports, a  non-profit organization, Hooker will engage teams to get out into the public, help find a way to give the fans the best basketball experience.

Director of Sales & Sponsorship Kevin Smith joins the team with a background in business, marketing, finance and management. Smith will work with league teams to find the right avenues for long-term sponsorships, season ticket sales and community engagement.

Darryl Todd, the Director of Officials, has officiated in the NCAA, semi-pro leagues and the WBCBL. He will assist with game rule changes and all officials scheduling.

When it comes to league events, Sandi Brown takes the helm as Event Coordinator. Owner of Toledo’s first women’s pro basketball team, the Toledo Threat, Brown's goal is to assist in organizing public events with presentation, content and resources.

Greg Cobb has been brought on as Senior Writer. Founder of BeerCityHoops, Cobb will spend his time writing and telling stories of players and coaches throughout the league, as well as League business announcements.

Phil Hamilton joins the group as Director of Legal Operations. He'll be making sure everyone does their job correctly.