B-ballers play ‘street ball’

What do the young men and college and high school students do during the off-season from the regular basketball schedule to stay in shape for the next level?

Most popular is the ‘street ball’ where they try to better their skills either by themselves or with other players of their own ability including their friends. They would join a league or a tournament or even just have ‘choose up’ games on their own. Three-on-three basketball or half court games are also popular in some areas of New York City.

Kids or adults, with or without supervision, can be found playing games using either full or half court at Tillery Park in Brooklyn. Such was the case on a recent late Saturday afternoon after competition in the Tillery Park league for 14 and 12 year olds and under.

Take for example, Shakeem Crum who resides in Bushwick, Brooklyn, working out in the park.

The 17-year-old Crum is working on his jump shot and on his drive to the basket so that he could better himself this fall as a junior at Christ The King High School or Xaveriian High School as he is yet to make up his mind.

“I used to play here in the Tillery Park League and played in its under 14 league,” he said while taking a break from a game. “Now I play in two other leagues in Brooklyn.”

Last year Crum attended a public school. “I’m switching to a Catholic School because I think it’s better than the public (ones) for basketball. I already met some of the coaches at Christ The King. I’ll be playing on the varsity team there. One coach told me to work hard, never give up, and keep up my grades if I want to play. These games are challenging. And I’ll be playing on MSG Varsity (Television.)”

“Right now I’m at a summer camp at Christ The King and then I’ll be going to a summer away from home camp. I want to be highly ranked in the nation.”

Take another young man working at his game. He is Rasean Bunn, who attended Truman High School in The Bronx last year. He said that he did not play good on its basketball team.

Now he is headed to Monroe College in New Rochelle for his freshman year,

“I have to improve (more so) on my offense,” said Bunn, who lives in Brooklyn. After my time at Monroe, I’ll finish my basketball at another (four-year) college.”

The 6’7” Bunn comes to Tillery Park often (even though) he competes in four (leagues) in the City, including the Nike Swish in the Bronx. All of them are good.

“Practicing in the leagues over the years got my confidence up,” Bunn said. “When I first started to play two years ago, I wasn’t that great of a player, and I could barely catch a rebound. Now I’m doing more that I did do.”

Too bad, there is no league for high school and older players at Tillery Park like there used to be. It is strictly for the younger kids.

“Maybe it was five years ago that I played here in a league,” said Joel Dash of Lafayette Gardens in Brooklyn. “This is my first time back here in five years. Now I play for Nike Swish.”

Many people were disappointed when the (older) league at Tillery Park was dropped.

Now, Dash also plays ‘street ball’ and tournaments just for fun. He works in security in all the boroughs and just wants to get back into shape.

Ozone Park’s Terrell Parker, 21, who used to play at Tillery Park returned to this site one Saturday to see if he could stay in shape by getting into a pick-up game. At the same time, he wants to relax and get better. He played for a short time in a league in Bay Ridge.

“I want to get back into the swing of things and hopefully play over seas,” Parker said.

Basketball leagues and tournaments are bouncing all over New York City, including in suburbs and even in New Jersey.

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