Action in various outdoor basketball leagues and tournaments and with travel teams comprising the best cagers on a particular team will all begin very shortly, as the hoopsters get set to make basketball an all year round activity. These programs help the individuals better prepare themselves for the next level.
For instance in one location, the season already started. In the metropolitan area, including Long Island, one league got an early start as they do every year beginning in late March. This league is the one held at the IS 8 Gymnasium in Jamaica. Actually it started on March 31 and runs until early June. All the games are played indoors.
During the summer, leagues pop up in Harlem with the Rucker League, in Manhattan at West 4th Street, another in Queens at the ElmCor Center and one in Brooklyn at Tillery Park.
The leagues with healthy competition keep the boys and men in shape during their off season. It’s during the winter that they play in leagues that count the most.
At present, action is moving along at the IS 8 gymnasium with a second site the Variety Club in Long Island City. This league has 50 teams entered into its high school league, divided into 10 different divisions. After 65 teams entered into it, the directors had to turn some teams away. This is only a boy’s league.
Games are contested on week day evenings and on weekends on a round robin setup.
The league is under the direction of Peter Edwards, a former standout player at Division II New York Institute of Technology in the late 70s and early 80s. Joe Thompson is the site director at the Variety location. Edwards is site director at IS 8. Spectators are always welcome. The league has been run continuously for 28 years.
The purpose of the league is to give the kids or young men who are not the stars the opportunity to be seen and to bring the best kids available to showcase their skills under game and league conditions.
Players want to get noticed by representatives of the next level. They want to succeed, learn more about the sport and at the same time have fun. They want to stay in shape during their off season so that they don’t fall back when their season starts during the fall.
Over the years, players such as Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Sebastian Telfair and Jakim Noah, all played at IS 8, and all made the National Basketball Association, and prior to their college days were standout high school players, some earning top honors during their schoolboy days.
From the present group an all-American high school cager at St. Anthony’s High School of New Jersey Kyle Anderson is competing in the IS 8 League. Next year he will be attending UCLA.
There is also Traynor Williams, a senior at Forest Hills High school, who has to attend prep school first because of his grades, and then enter college for a career possibly in the NBA. He competes for an IS 8 League team called Mountain B-Ball.
“This league is very competitive, is fun, and gives me good experience,” Williams said. “I’m working on my jump shot and footwork.”
Most of the teams are sponsored by either local merchants, various organizations and companies who have been around for a long time. Some companies may sponsor more than one team in the league.
Then there are squads whose players put up ‘x’ amount of money in order to be able to compete in what they like to do the most – play competitive basketball after a hard day’s work or for the younger boys – summer school.