After a memorable debut last year, the Santa Barbara Breakers are leaving the International Basketball League to join a new circuit — the West Coast Pro Basketball League.

Curt Pickering, the Breakers’ owner, president and head coach, announced the move Friday. Last spring, Pickering led the Breakers to a 17-6 campaign, culminating in an appearance in the IBL West championship game in Portland. The squad featured former NBA players Toby Bailey, Lamond Murray, Fred Vinson and Samaki Walker.

“Due to our success, I’ve received many calls from businessmen in Southern California cities,” Pickering said. “It became a no-brainer. Why do we need to fly to Chicago and drive on long road trips when we can play games against Southern California teams?”

According to Pickering, there are six teams ready to go in the WCBL, which will debut with a four-team tournament in Santa Barbara on April 11-12. The Breakers will play a 22-game schedule — including 12 at home — against teams from Ventura-Oxnard, Palm Springs, Pasadena, Temecula and Victorville. League play will start April 18 with the playoffs slated for late June.

“I’ve followed minor-league pro basketball since 1985 and I think baseball has it right,” Pickering said. “They place minor-league teams in smaller cities (like Rancho Cucamonga, Lancaster and Victorville) that don’t have pro sports and they have reasonable road trips. They’re doing things the right way.”

The Breakers attracted 1,636 in their home debut at SBCC on April 13 and drew a sellout crowd of 2,002 for the regular-season finale — a 129-123 victory over Vancouver, Wash.

Jim Parks, who led Barstow to several community college state basketball titles and also coached at Cal State Bakersfield, will serve as the commissioner. Pickering will be the director of team expansion and development.
The new league will use the college three-point line, immediate in-bound passes, a new scoring feature called “The Oop,” a brainchild of Pickering’s and Park’s. A team will be awarded three points when a player who’s inside halfcourt and outside the three-point line throws an alley-oop pass for a slam dunk. The player who receives the pass has to start from outside the key.

Dave Loveton is the Santa Barbara Breakers’ media relations director.