MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Mike Mathews, a member of the Harlem Wizards basketball team, has been director of basketball at Mount Vernon's Hooperstown sports and recreation facility for a year and has begun building a strong base of basketball with Westchester County youngsters.
Hooperstown's most recent on-court accomplishment came earlier this month, when the Huskies' fifth-grade boys traveling squad, a team of players from Armonk, Harrison, New Rochelle, Mount Vernon and Pelham, took fourth place at the Amateur Athletic Union Nationals in Hampton, Va. It was the first time a Hooperstown AAU team earned a medal in national competition.
Mathews, who played college ball at Florida State and was a pro in Europe, South America and as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters, is assisted by legendary Mount Vernon High School basketball star Rasul Salahuddin, who played at Long Beach State and professionally in Europe, and Port Chester's Rashamel Jones, a former standout at the University of Connecticut who also has a professional career in the U.S. Basketball Association.
"Rasul Salahuddin was very instrumental in helping me to prepare these boys for their recent success," Mathews said. "We keep these boys playing year-round. Right now, during the summer months, the boys are competing in an outdoor summer league in the New Roc Classic at Lincoln Park in New Rochelle. We have two teams in the New Roc Classic, and we practice two days a week during the summer. Our sixth-graders will be competing in Nationals July 12-15."
The Hooperstown Huskies fifth-grade team includes Brody Kimmel, Malik Salahuddin, Michael Loguidice, Jack Hickey, Truth Harris, Harry Ravitz, Shamel Jones, David McDaniels and Ethan Rohan.
Once the summer season is done, Mathews has his players in two workouts a week in the fall program, in which he and the staff work on skill levels by doing agility and basketball drills, scrimmaging and conditioning. The winter season continues with twice weekly workouts until the AAU season begins in March.
"Our success this year had a lot to do with the preparation we did during the summer, fall and winter months this past year," Mathews said. "We taught the kids that hard work pays off, and our coaches, kids and parents are very happy. We played in the New Roc Classic last year, and the boys improved a great deal, because they're playing against some of the top teams in Westchester and New York City."
Hooperstown sixth-graders were runners-up in the AAU Regionals in Brewster earlier this year, and the fifth-grade team reached the semifinals of the AAU Regionals
in Long Island.
For more information about Hooperstown sports, visit www.hooperstown.com.