There’s nothing like summer league basketball in the DMV.
Arguably the nation’s No. 1 hoops hotbed, the basketball culture in our area is perhaps second to none.
I was born in Oakland which boasts the distinction of producing scores of great NBA players including Bill Russell, Jason Kidd, Gary Payton and Damian Lillard among others.
However, when it comes to producing NBA talent per capita, the DMV rises to the top of the list.
Ricky Goings, founder of Everyone Deserves A Shot (EDAS), a non-profit that helps kids find basketball scholarships, can certainly attest to that notion.
“I think our area really took basketball seriously before the nation did,” said Goings.
Landon’s Fred Hetzel, a consensus first-team All-American at Davidson College, was the top overall selection by the San Francisco Warriors in the 1965 NBA Draft.
Tracy Jackson (Paint Branch), Jerome Williams (Magruder) and Steve Francis (Blair) are among Montgomery County’s most notable NBA products. Kevin Durant spent his senior campaign at Montrose Christian before he became the second overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.
Goings, a former Wheaton High School basketball player, is also organizer of the Legend Coalition. He co-founded the league with Brian Chase, a Dunbar High School alum who played collegiately at Virginia Tech and had a brief stint with the Utah Jazz before spending 13 years playing professional basketball overseas.
David Vanterpool, Lonny Baxter, Sherman Douglas, Charles Harrison, Josh Morgan, Bernard “Ducky” Vaughn and Mike McLeese have been instrumental in the formation of the Legend Coalition.
Curt Smith, a local legend who played high school basketball at Coolidge, has also been supportive in the cause to preserve the area’s basketball legacy.
“He’s definitely been a big part of what I’ve done,” said Goings.
The league features a handful of teams from Montgomery County including Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Paint Branch and Wheaton. Legend Coalition games are scheduled to run through August 19, according to Goings.
The Montgomery College Raptors have already clinched the 2018 Legend Coalition regular season championship. That team includes Tavares Cooper, Dele Ojo, Anthony “Gumby” Williams, Johan Matos, Ryan Blakeney, Jason Miskiri, Antoine Noble, Ted Green and Kwame Coleman.
“Those guys aren’t playing for the stats,” said Goings. “They’re playing to win.”
The Legend Coalition games are played at Kelly Miller Middle School in Northeast Washington and boast several amenities including new uniforms and full statistics for the entire league. There’s even a Huddle sports talk podcast where players can chop it up with the host.
“We try to make the league a little more interactive this year,” said Goings, who graduated from Wheaton in 2005.
Goings credits much of his basketball acumen to Nate Peake, a close family friend.
“Nate is the Godfather of D.C. basketball,” said Goings. “I’ve been around Steve Francis, Jason Miskiri and those guys my whole life. Nate really got me started out in the business of basketball. Even now he’s still a mentor to me.”
You can contact Brandy at: firstname.lastname@example.org.