Thanks to TMO Tyler Sickmeyer, head coach Brandon Cheeks, and center Julio Guity, the San Diego Sharks are running an effective three man weave in TBL in ’24.

San Diego, California. — Two years ago before the San Diego Sharks officially formed and began swimming in the deep waters of The Basketball League, team market owner Tyler Sickmeyer and head coach Brandon Cheeks talked frequently and favorably about what forming a basketball team and roster would look like in San Diego.

“We have been on the same page from the get go,” Sickmeyer said in an interview with Around The Basketball League, while reflecting fondly on his years playing under Coach Cheeks.

“I trusted him as a player, so it’s natural for me to trust him as the majority owner of this team. That’s my style as a leader – to trust and empower and then sit back and let people do what they are great at. Having that kind of stability is crucial for us.”

What the Sharks are great at is a rather long list in a very short time of existence. Free tickets to games. Free popcorn for fans. A detailed marketing plan and results from Fidelitas Development. And putting a professional basketball team on the floor that puts competition and community outreach equally on the same level. Thanks to Sickmeyer and Coach Cheeks, it’s just some of the calling cards the Sharks have become known for while playing in The Basketball League.

“I want to grow this franchise. We fine tune in the offseason, but now that the season is here my job is to prepare these guys to be successful,” said head coach Brandon Cheeks.

“As a coach, I want them to grow. Whether that means going overseas to play or being part of what we are building here in San Diego, it’s my goal to help make them better. I have a t-shirt, and on the front it says ‘Basketball Never Stops’. That really is more than just a saying or slogan. That’s what basketball is around here for us…it’s always going.”

Progress takes time. That’s a fact of life the Sharks have become accustomed to in TBL’s deep Western Conference. With a very long offseason in the books and the 2024 TBL season finally here with the start of training camps opening up, teams are quickly identifying players on the team who can be an extension of the coaching staff on the floor.

Someone to lead.

Someone to mentor the young guys.

Someone who has been on the other side of struggle by pushing through the challenges that come their way.

At 29 years old, the Sharks 6-foot-7 forward/center Julio Guity has spent the last six years playing internationally from Uruguay, to Bosnia, Armenia, and Malta prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 which sent him back home to San Diego. Even during the global health crisis, Julio went to work playing in Macedonia, Mexico, Kuwait, and Lebanon. Last season, Julio split time between playing for the Sharks and in Saudi Arabia. The Morse High School alum and San Diego native began his collegiate career at Western Nebraska Community College in Scottsbluff before moving on to the University of Montevallo in Alabama, where Julio played a supporting role for the Falcons and was named Presidential Scholar on the Peach Belt Conference Presidential Honor Roll in 2017.

“Coming out of college and wanting to play professionally was difficult,” Julio began.

“I really didn’t have anyone in my corner then or have friends that played overseas, so I just did research on my own and contacted agencies. It all happened pretty fast. I remember graduating, going home for a week and a half and then I went right to South America after that. It was a learning experience. I didn’t know I could get sent home at any time. I was in Uruguay for about a month, but that moment helped shape the detail of my work and how seriously I started taking it. It’s a job. If you don’t perform to a certain standard, they have the right to part ways with you.”

It was those unforgettable moments and life-experiences living and playing basketball around the world that have now equipped Julio to fiercely face a short-season in The Basketball League with the Sharks. He had to go through that, to get to this.

“I’ve learned a lot in these last few years.”

In Armenia, Julio learned to become an all-star.

He earned the selection after helping lead Urartu BC to the second-best record in the league by averaging a double-double on the season (12.7 points, 11.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game).

In Malta, Julio learned how to win.

He averaged another double-double, with 12.7 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in six games with Gzira Athleta, who captured the Maltese League Championship  in 2019.

In Lebanon, he learned about the business of basketball the hard way.

“There were some money issues and I ended up leaving. It was a bad situation. There are levels to the overseas game and you can’t expect too much from certain teams. You have to know going into certain situations, that it’s not going to be perfect. It’s not college, where you have everything you need. Overseas, you have to find your own way,” Julio explained.

“It isn’t as perfect as it seems. If you’re not up there playing in Euroleague, it can be a struggle. You might not get your money or have an ideal living situation. Your teammates may not like you or whatever, but you still have to fight that mental hurdle and do your job. You can’t get caught up in the extras. Today, I know those obstacles exist but now I know how to get over them.”

Julio leaving Lebanon without receiving the money he was rightfully due, was the culmination of three instances where he had not been compensated for playing. He didn’t get paid in Bosnia. He didn’t get paid in Armenia. So when that same song began to play in Lebanon, Julio had heard enough.

He went back home to San Diego and took two months off from the game.

He didn’t touch a basketball.

He didn’t do any weight training.

He thought about what went wrong and how to make it right.

“I ended up paying for my own flight home. I took some time off from basketball. Those three experiences take up a lot of your mental energy. I needed that time off. I am young. I am able. I can’t let these bad situations define my love for the game.

Julio began the 2023 TBL season in San Diego before going on to play in Saudi Arabia, and returning to close out the season with the Sharks. Last season, the Sharks possessed a roster full of experience. This 2024 season, Guity is now being looked upon to provide some much-needed to a young inexperienced roster.

So what’s the message he wants to get across to the younger guys coming up in the game?

“Take it seriously. This is a job. It may not be as flashy as overseas to start with, but there are who want a spot on this team. I know guys who want a spot on this team. Take your practices and your workouts seriously. I have a responsibility to take these guys under my wing. I feel like I need to take care of these guys.”

That’s where being an extension of Cheeks and Sickmeyer comes into play.

“We have a formula here and we stick to it,” Coach Cheeks started.

“We fit players into our scheme. We want guys to compete. We want guys who take a defensive mindset. Guys who take pride in the game. We want guys who are professional. We want guys who battle. Julio is that guy for us.”

For Tyler Sickmeyer, there is equal parts admiration and appreciation.

“He’s on my list of the favorite guys I have played with,” Sickmeyer said.

“He’s a pros-pro. He does the little things. He brings his lunch pail and goes to work everyday. He does whatever the coaching staff asks of him. He’ll sacrifice his stats and his body. If we can have 13 Julios, I would take 13 Julios tomorrow.”

In back-to-back weekends, the San Diego sharks took on the Tijuana Zonkeys in international exhibition play to get ready for the TBL season, drawing over 1,600 fans in San Diego and showing local fans that professional basketball is alive and well in Southern California. While the Sharks suffered losses in both games, they came away winners knowing they’ve had only a matter of weeks together and what awaits them this season in TBL.

“It comes down to teaching and effectively communicating. We have a good group of guys who are all open to coaching and receiving feedback from older guys,” Julio began.

“I have to be more of a leader to the younger guys. It’s more of a responsibility to help shape these guys in the right direction and guide them.”


Wendell Maxey is the author of Around The Basketball League and has written about professional basketball and sports for 20 years. He’s been featured on,, USA Today, FOX Sports, and SLAM Magazine among other publications and media outlets. You can connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn or read through his archive on Linktree. This 2024 season, Wendell will also be a featured writer with the Basketball Super League.


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