The Jayhawks are a force in the AAU circuit nationwide, churning out a number of division-one athletes while simultaneously providing them the outlet to excel academically.
The home base for the program is in Jamaica at the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Queens. Executive director Jay David, who has helped oversee the rise of the program, described it as an awesome setting.
“It’s an amazing space, a relatively brand new building, and has everything we need,” he told this paper. “It has two courts, computer rooms where guys can do their homework, that’s a really good situation for us.”
The Jayhawk origins dates back to 2009 after being founded by David’s uncle, Andrew Lewis. David aims to continue to carry the vision initially set out within the program.
“It was literally just to help kids in the Queens area so that they could build, be able to play basketball and work at the same time,” David said. “As that started to expand, we started serving other communities as well. With that, our principles and everything, we were able to start recruiting higher level kids.”
The Jayhawks pride themselves on the balance of succeeding both off and on the court. The Queens-based club has developed a reputation for having kids with a distinctly delightful temperament, as well as producing between the lines.
“We have extremely high-character kids,” David said. “We try not to sacrifice character for talent.”
And that philosophy has proven successful.
“Our 15-and-under team is ranked eighth in the country, and our 17-U team ranking has been as high as number 25 in the country,” David said. “We were 20th about two or three years ago when we had Hamidou Diallo and Mamadou Diarra in the program.
“We have some really good balance and depth in the program,” he added. “I’m excited about that because our future is really bright.”
Diallo, who will play at the University of Kentucky this upcoming season, and Diarra, who enters the University of Connecticut as a highly touted freshman in 2017, are only two of the standouts the Jayhawks have produced over recent years.
And there is more on the horizon. Much more.
The Jayhawks currently have several high level players, like 7-foot-1 Majur Masak, Chris Ledlum, Samba Diallo, Alpha Diallo, Frankie Policelli, Donatas Kupsas, Andres Carbello, Charles Pride and Tyler Bertram.
This current crop of Jayhawks ballers has earned full scholarship offers to schools like UConn, Rutgers, University of Washington, Stony Brook, George Washington, Binghamton and Old Dominion, among others.
Coming up for the Jayhawks are a number of events, highlighted by the Adidas Gauntlet Finale in Spartanburg, South Carolina, from July 12-15, followed by the Adidas Summer Championships from July 26-30 in Las Vegas.
Sandwiched in between is a joint combine showcase with the Pro Scholars Academy Cardinals, who are running a combine for the third-straight year. The Jayhawks and Cardinals will run the event on Sunday, July 23, at the Westtown School in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
“For our guys to be able to come in is huge for us,” said David of the upcoming combine. “It’s going to be an amazing event. We have a lot schools signed on already, and there will be more coming soon.”
Some of the many schools that are presumed to be in attendance are St. John’s, Seton Hall, Fordham, UConn, Providence, Cincinnati, UMass, Temple and Yale.
David spoke about the importance of working with other programs and building connections on the grassroots level, all with the idea of progressing the teams and the sport as a whole.
“You want to be able to compete but not step on anyone while you’re competing, and still have a certain level of camaraderie and relationship because you’re all from the same area,” he said. “Something like this brings attention to so many high-level kids that are from this area.”