The Rebirth: NY Ballers Are Kings of March Madness Court 

    New York City hoops have been a whisper in regards to the national landscape the past decade. The impact of city hoopers, who back in the 80s and early 90s, dominated the NCAA college scene, has become minimal as basketball’s old fertile grounds has been losing the race when it comes to developing blue-chip players. 

    Out of the darkness of the COVID-19 pandemic comes a rebirth of a basketball nation. As the Brooklyn Nets have assembled a team for the ages and the Knicks are finally climbing out of their decades-long doldrums, New York city talent is once again taking center stage in college basketball. 

    Yes, the actual city…the 5 boroughs. Not the suburbs. In fact, Queens and Brooklyn talent is leading the way, with some Long Island talent in the mix, but not dominating the pack. 

    There is no doubt NYC is NOT dead as many have suggested, said Team Footptintz CEO Mark Williams, a training and marketing guru known throughout NY hoops circles as “The Hidden Hand.”

    It might not have the aura it once had, but very capable players are being produced despite the myriad of challenges facing both sides of the basketball spectrum, Williams insists.

    These current NY ballers were featured in a New York Post article highlighting the best NY players remaining in The 2021 NCAA Tournament. 

     G Jose Alvarado (15.4 PPG, 4.2 APG), Georgia Tech, Brooklyn

    A former star at Christ the King in Queens, the 6-foot Alvarado deserves this opportunity. He has improved every season, and instead of looking elsewhere during difficult times, he helped improve the situation at Georgia Tech.

    So. G James Bouknight (19.4 PPG, 5.5 RPG), Connecticut, Brooklyn

    The 6-foot-5 Crown Heights native is one of the premier guards in the country, a projected lottery pick who makes the Huskies a legitimate second-weekend threat. 

    So. C Kofi Cockburn (17.3 PPG, 9.6 RPG) Illinois, Queens

    In this age in which everyone shoots 3-pointers and wants to play on the perimeter, the 7-foot Cockburn proves a dominant old-school big man can still be effective as he was voted First Team All-Big Ten. 

    The Kingston, Jamaica, native played three seasons for Christ The King in Middle Village, Queens, before transferring to Oak Hill Academy in Virginia for his senior season. He was also an AAU teammate (NY Rens) of his current Illinois running mate Alan Griffin.

    Best Of The Rest NY Products In 2021 NCAA Tournament

    Fr. G Andre Curbelo (8.8 PPG, 4.2 RPG), Illinois, Brookville, N.Y.

    Fr. F Zed Key (5.2 PPG, 3.5 RPG), Ohio State, Bayshore, NY

    G Camren Wynter (16.8 PPG, 5.3 APG), Drexel, Hempstead, N.Y.

    https://youtu.be/qSGqKl2B55s

    Sr. G Michael Almonacy (12.9 PPG, 4.2 RPG), Appalachian State, Brentwood, N.Y.

    Fr. G R.J. Davis (8.6 PPG, 2.3 RPG), North Carolina, White Plains, N.Y.

    Jr. G/F Alan Griffin (14.7 PPG, 6.5 RPG), Syracuse, Ossining, N.Y.

    While many NY products will be hooping it up in the tournament, there are some who were not invited to the dance but their accomplishments during the regular season can’t go unmentioned.

    Posh Alexander is a 6-foot dynamic, versatile freshman guard who averaged 10.9 ppg, 3.4 rebounds, and 4.3 assists en route to winning Big East Freshman of The Year. Posh was the first St.John’s Player to win the award since Moe Harkless and JaKarr Sampson went back-to-back in 2012 & 2013. 

    The freshman out of Brooklyn, who starred at Our Saviour Lutheran HS in the Bronx alongside St. John’s teammate Dylan Addae-Wusualso, also garnered Big East Defensive Player of the Year Honors. 

    6-8 Sophomore Julian Champagnie out of Bishop Loughlin Memorial HS in Bk, made a monster leap in his second season, averaging a team-high 19.8 ppg for the Red Storm and in the process snatching a Big East Most Improved Player Award. 

    St. John’s made a push to get into the NCAA Tourney picture in late February but were awarded an NIT invitation instead, which the school declined, choosing to end its season. The future is bright in Queens. 

    Northeastern’s Tyson Walker excelled at Christ The King in Queens and then did a PG year in New Hampton Prep (NH) before winning CAA Defensive Player of the Year in his sophomore season. 

    This two-way assassin also led the CAA in league play with 19.3 points per game, 2.50 steals per game and was third with 5.1 assists per game. Walker earned his second All-CAA first-team honor and led the CAA with two 30-point games.

    6-10 center Moussa Cisse was born in Conakry, Guinea (West Africa) and made his way to Middle Village, Queens in 2015, where he played for hoops factory Christ The King Regional and led them to the NYSFSSA state title game in 2019. 

    Before attending Christ the King, he played for St. Benedict’s Prep, where he was a teammate of former Memphis Tiger and current NBA player Precious Achiuwa. Cisse was awarded Freshman of the Year playing for Penny Hardaway in the American Athletic Conference. 

    This year’s tournament will be held entirely in Indiana because of the pandemic

    There will be 37 at-large selections (one more than normal) and 31 automatic qualifiers (one fewer than normal). The excitement is sure to be there as millions will crowd around their TV sets and mobile devices to witness March Madness one year after the pandemic forced the event to be canceled for the first time in its history. 

    Somebody said New York is in the house? Indeed and the rebirth is here.

    “We can only hope, this current crop of NYC products are able to ignite the next group of players, parents, and programs to carry on the rich tradition of NYC basketball,” Williams tells The Shadow League. 

    After some low times, the world is opening up and basketball is looking up in the Big Apple.

    JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.