UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Three years ago, the King of Kings Life Development Program began as a small organization aiming to promote community growth in the Mohawk Valley through a summer basketball league. Now in its fourth year, the league has grown substantially itself, drawing some of the best high school and college players from across the state.
"We want to create a very inviting environment with good music, good players, good basketball," says Men's League Director Brandon Long. "We're about having a safe, good time for the community. We don't charge. We want everybody to see this."
In addition to the usual bevy of local talent featuring former NCAA Division I players and current players from NCAA Divisions II and III, junior colleges and high schools, the program received certification from the NCAA this year, allowing current NCAA Division I athletes to participate. Among those taking advantage are four players are from Syracuse University: Sophomore Scoop Jardine and the freshman trio of Brandon Triche, Mookie Jones and James Sutherland.
Triche, who played in the league last year prior to his senior season at Jamesville-DeWitt, says the level of play the league offers is top-notch.
"It's great competition. In Syracuse, you can't really get that. You just work out."
Having three new teammates playing adds a big benefit, as well.
"It's definitely going to build chemistry," says Triche. "Me being a freshman and guys being here already, they've got to get used to the way I play and I've got to get used to the way they play, also. So, this will definitely help to get an early jump on it."
Though it's tempting to focus on just the basketball, the program's goal remains improving the community. Several booths will be offered at games this year to support causes ranging from voter registration to job opportunities to SAT and ACT preparation for high school students.
For more on the program, including the game schedule and details on the women's league, click here.