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April 6, 2012
Lightning Basketball; Bigger & Better
For the last nineteen years, the Long Island Lightning has been an imposing force on the New York AAU basketball scene but for the past three years, the program has undergone an expansion.
Under Executive Director Jim Fox, the re-branded Lightning Basketball has grown from one team to well over 200 teams.
The Lightning originated in the Island Garden, a basketball facility located in West Hempstead, NY, also run by Fox.
"We now have teams all over," said Fox. "We have the L.I. Lightning at the Island Garden and we have the Suffolk Lightning while play at the North Sports Facility in Northport, NY." According to Fox, those branches have 150 and 30 teams respectively.
Fox says that in addition to the two long island branches, there is the Nor-east Lightning from Brewster, NY with 23 teams, the Coaches Choice Lightning in New Jersey with 23 teams as well as New England Lightning and Connecticut Lightning teams. There is also N.Y.C. Lightning teams under Charles Melone.
One of the Elite level teams under the Lightning Basketball umbrella are the New York Lightning, a Nike sponsored team headed up by Dana Dingle and Shandue McNeil. "Those teams participate in Nike EYBL invitation only tournaments throughout the summer.
The 9th grade NY Lightning squad feature 6'10" rising sophomore Jesse Jovan (St. Mary's) as well as St. Raymond's dynamic pg Jaquan McKinnon. Dingle believes that Govan may have more upside than any player in any class which is quite an endorsement.
The 10th grade team has Kadeem Carrington (Bishop Loughlin), Shaun Jones (St. Rays'), Andre' Walker (St. Anthony), Thomas Holley (Christ the King) and Kahari Beauford (St. Ray's.
The NY Lightning 17U division is anchored by Jon Severe, Jason Boswell, Kuran Iverson, Dayshon Smith (Putnam Science Academy) and Naell Smith.
Dingle, who also coaches the NY Lightning, says that his teams will participate in high profile events such as Big Shots, Rumble in the Bronx, Peach Jam, Game Over, Boo Williams and The Duel as well as the Nike Invitational and the aforementioned Nike EYBL.
Fox said he expect Lightning Basketball to continue growing. There's even a Midwest Lightning in the works.
Fox says that throughout the years the Lightning teams have produced over 400 division I to division III players. "Our teams range from developmental to national caliber," he said.