Kids in the Game started in 2003, an organization based on the foundation of giving kids of all ages the opportunity to compete in sports.  Today, Kids in the Game runs programs in dozens of communities, including over 25,000 kids in New York City. 

We recently sat down with Owen Smith, the Athletics Coordinator of Kids in the Game, to ask him a few questions about the basketball program KING Hoops NYC.

Q: When/How did the program start?

A: KING Hoops originated from our parent company Kids in the Game in 2016. Kids in the Game is a sports-based youth development organization that serves ~15,000 kids across New York City in school, summer and sports programs. Our founder and current CEO have deep ties into basketball both competing on the collegiate level. While there is not a shortage of youth basketball programs in NYC, our team felt passionately about entering the space to provide a holistic approach to youth, competitive basketball. Our program has grown from one competitive team in 2016 to become a member of the prestigious Under Armour Rise circuit in 2020. We believe in creating a well-rounded experience for our student-athletes and provide a college-model approach of academic and life skill support tied to our basketball program. 

Q: How/Why did you get involved in youth basketball? 

A: KING Hoops started as a passion project as many of our employees in 2016 had deep ties to the sport. Our Founder, Michael Murphy played college basketball at Hamilton College and entered the sports industry immediately following graduation. His coaching credentials include Columbia University, College of Mt. Saint Vincent, and SUNY Geneseo. Our first Director of KING Hoops, Paul O’Connor, also coached at various universities including Providence College, Central Connecticut and Kennesaw State. With so much experience on the collegiate level, they recognized the gaps in preparedness players had coming into college. Both were passionate about creating a program built to close those gaps and KING Hoops was born.

Q: Most memorable moment of the programs? 

A: As a program still on the rise, 2021 was our first year competing on a broader, national stage. Joining the UA Rise Circuit came with a level of uncertainty if we could hang with the best or not. We ended up going 9-3 as a program at UA sponsored events, and 3-1 at the National tournament in Indianapolis. For many of our kids this was the first time they traveled and got to experience a tournament of that caliber. While the wins were meaningful, the team-bonding, support and commerdarie in between games is what the kids will remember for a lifetime. 

Q: What are you most looking forward to in the upcoming season? 

A: What we are looking forward to most for this coming season is that I am enjoying the last year with our 17U team. We are incredibly lucky to have a group of kids that have been with us from the very beginning. To have watched them grow into the talented, well-rounded players and people has been an honor. We look forward to watching them all play one last season with us and sending them off to their next adventure. 

Q: What separates you from other programs in the area and country? 

A: As a basketball parent or player in NYC, you have limitless options when it comes to choosing your organization for all things basketball. Since we launched KING Hoops in 2016, we have strived to build a professional program through organization, consistent communication, coaches who “get it” and involvement in youth hoops for the right reasons. The KING Hoops program is rooted in skill development, competitive drills, and competition while focusing on building great leaders and teammates. Our focus is to develop a holistic year-round program that helps prepare your kid for the challenges he will face on and off the court. We aim to improve the culture of youth basketball by the coaches we hire, skills we develop, and priorities we emphasize. Your children will be exposed to drills and competition to help them improve not only their on the court skills, but their mental toughness as well. We want kids who are willing to commit to the program and strive to get better every single day.

Q: Key dates you want us to highlight?

A: Tryouts will be held on Saturday March 12th and Sunday March 13th @ Leman Manhattan Preparatory School (1 Morris Street)


5th-8th Grade Girls: 1:00-2:00 pm


10/11u: 2:00-3:00 pm

12/13u: 3:00-4:00 pm

14u: 4:00-5:00 pm

15u: 5:00-6:00 pm

16u: 6:00-7:00 pm

17u: 7:00-8:00 pm

Q: What is the recruiting process for bringing in new players? 

A: Every winter our coaches will go out to multiple middle school and high school games throughout NYC looking for players who will be the right fit for our program. We also hold two days of tryouts for each age group.

Q: How many players/teams will you have this year? 

A: We will have 6 Boys teams from ages 10-17u  and 1 middle school girls team this year. We will have 10-12 players per team. 

Q: What is the biggest strength of the program? 

A: Consistency. NYC basketball culture can be hard to navigate with new programs popping up all the time. Our program is incredibly lucky to have had a consistent coaching staff year over year. Our coaches are members of the communities we serve and see the big picture when it comes to both basketball and youth development. Our coaches grow alongside our kids and it makes for a true family atmosphere. 

Q: How do you see the program growing in the future?

A: Our growth over the next few years will be centered around concentrating on younger, more developmental level programs including clinics, teams and camps for 7-11 year olds. We also are motivated to grow our girls’ program to match our boys’ in number of teams and participants.