By Tom Robinson, NEPA Elite News
SCRANTON – The first KYDA Invitational met its goals and more.
Quality competition for the participants, money raised for a worthy cause and a step closer to a return to normal with a sporting event serving as entertainment were all part of the equation Saturday and Sunday at Riverfront Sports and some other local gyms.
“As a whole for the weekend, we certainly exceeded expectations in bringing the tournament here to Scranton,” Riverfront Sports co-owner and NEPA Elite AAU club founder Kevin Clark said.
The AAU basketball event featured three games at a time on the Riverfront courts for more than 12 hours Saturday and nearly as long Sunday.
While the older and higher-level divisions were contested there, more games took place at Scranton High School, Holy Rosary, the Throop Civic Center and the Moosic Youth Center.
At Riverfront, 10 of the top 100 college prospects in the nation, according to ESPN’s assessment of the Class of 2022, showed off their skills while others, vying to be considered alongside them, put up the challenge.
With many of the top players from basketball hotbeds New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. in action, rims were left shaking on many occasions.
“I think the draw locally and, regionally in the country, the competition was outstanding,” Clark said. “Being able to host and have 10 of the top 100 kids in the ’22 class here and, in a bigger scale, there was feeling of a bit of normalcy coming back into our sports world for a lot of our kids and the other kids that came here to Riverfront.”
That included excited fans – both those that traveled with the teams and local sports enthusiasts who stopped in to see the action.
“I saw a lot of sports fans from the area that just came out to watch the games and see the talent,” Clark said. “I think it was very well received and we’re excited about it and hope to make this an annual event.”
Clark put together the event with Oz Cross from Keep Youth Dreams Alive, a New York City-area non-profit agency. Cross was an assistant coach at St. John’s University when Clark played there.
“We were able to give a good donation to Keep Youth Dreams Alive and help fund those kids through Oz’s program,” Clark said. “To be able to do it through basketball and a personal relationship with a good friend of mine made this tournament incredibly worth it and we’re very happy about it.”
With teams sponsored by Nike, Under Armour and Adidas, the event drew attention from media outlets that cover the national recruiting aspect of basketball.