One does not have to be a player to sit among the crowd and catch exciting basketball regardless of age during the hot summer months. The players who compete, especially in the high school division in such a league are capable of being the possible stars of tomorrow.
Some compete in the Men’s Open Division consisting of ex-college, former high school or those who are students in college but not necessarily on their school’s teams. They are trying to improve on their skills in this West Four Street League located in lower Manhattan near Sixth Avenue.
Games are held during the day, seven days a week on schedule. Because there is limited seating, all spectators are advised to bring their own chairs. In addition, there aren’t any night games, for there aren’t any lights, just like in past years.
The league provides some top notch action, as some of the players compete year after year regardless of age. The games are refereed by certified officials.
For those on high school or intermediate school teams, these student athletes are working hard on their weaknesses in order for them to be better players when September rolls around. In addition, the recruits on the college level certainly have some work to do during this time frame of the calendar year as they abide by NCAA or high school regulations.
Kenny Graham is the director of the league, which also includes two female divisions. He has a very competent staff consisting of those at the table, commissioner of the league, and assistant directors. They take care of other matters that might spring up during the action. Nike is the sponsor of the entire league.
Retired coaches keeping up with the sport on all levels certainly enjoy watching the hoop activity at its best.
One former junior college coach certainly enjoys to watch good basketball where ever and when ever it might arise. This coach has been associated with basketball for many years, resides in Manhattan, but wishes to remain anonymous. He doesn’t even recruit.
“Those days are over,” he said while watching a high school division game from one end of the court last week. “I used to live near Nassau Community College. But now I live in Manhattan. I give advice about basketball to my grand children. I’ve been following this West Fourth Street League for about 10 years.
“These players are really (impressive.) I see some great ones here These (high school) kids are still learning. It’s good for them.”
Some of the players put on great shows, are very talented, and certainly impress the crowd. For instance, Ismael Johnson is at Odessa College in Texas. “A lot of players at Odessa College end up at Division One colleges,” he added.
Then there are several first timers in this high school division who still have to improve on their skills if they want to go places this winter. One is Elias Deneke, who is making his debut in this league.
“It’s fun playing in this league,” said Elias, who had attended high school in Connecticut. “I’m only a sophomore in high school and also play in other leagues such as Dyckman (in the Bronx) and Rucker (in Manhattan). I still must get stronger and bigger. Othewise, I feel good.”
About the staff of the league, all the directors, table help, and officials also help to make this circuit a success over past years and are continuing to do the same this time around once again.
Conducting a circuit happens to be a lot of hard work and patience. The high school division is growing in teams and in individuals. The league includes teams from throughout the country. It is a great opportunity for the recruiters, especially the college ones, to take a look at the under classmen during “the open period.” When they do come they do not talk to the players. They take notes and watch them in action. At the closing of the league portion of the schedule, the top eight teams in each of the divisions, qualify for the playoffs to determine one title holder in each league.