KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) – First the decision, then the departure. Brandon Ingram, who helped bring four state titles to Kinston, is gone.
Ingram is now impressing at the college level with an NBA future coming in only a matter of time.
But the ball never stopped bouncing in Kinston.
“You know, it’s a cycle. Once Brandon left, we didn’t worry about, still going to be basketball, said Skeet Davis, a long-time coach at the Holloway Recreation Center in Kinston.
“Once the next Brandon leaves, there’s going to be some basketball. Kinston is going to have basketball.”
A cycle that persists thanks to icons like Cedric Maxwell, Jerry Stackhouse, or Reggie Bullock, who all got their start in Kinston.
Even Herbert Hill, who’s played professionally in Korea for 8 years now.
“It actually like changed my life and helped my life. And I just tell kids, you have to believe in yourself and never give up no matter what anyone tells you.”
“They’re just keeping it going. I think that, I talked with some of those guys that I played with still, said Brandon Ingram after Duke’s win over North Carolina last Wednesday.
“And I see the drive in them that they want to be state champions, and they want to win each game. It’s going to still be great.”
The people prove its possible. The places pave the way.
Brandon’s dad, Donald has played a pivotal role in ensuring a bright future of basketball in Kinston.
“I want somene else to make it. I’m giving them something that will keep them off the street. If the door is closed, apparently they’re going to be out anyway, so I try to give them a place to go.”
Davis echoed Donald. “You can open up at 2 o’clock. You can open up at one, somebody is going to be in here within 15 minutes. I don’t care what time we close, you have to run them out.”
Martin C. Freeman, Holloway, Fairfield, the Woodmen, the Mock Gym, all focused on fostering the future.
“We’ve got 91 youth basketball teams here in the city and the county, said Bill Ellis, Director of Parks and Recreation in Lenoir County.
“So, the last I heard at breakfast this morning, we have a freshman that is probably going to be the next ACC player, so we’re just looking to keep kids coming, and keeping them trained, but more than anything, we want to keep them active, and off our streets.”
Basketball in Kinston has served as a way for kids to excel, and escape. But also, basketball is an avenue of aid, with pros returning home to help both emotionally and financially.
“Kinston is going to be fine as far as basketball, said Donald Ingram. It’s going to be fine once Brandon goes to the NBA because just like any other player that has left Kinston, we’re getting ideas of helping to give back.”
Basketball in Kinston. It’s not about the titles, it’s about the town. It’s not about Brandon, but the brand.
So what’s the future of basketball in Kinston? Well that answer lies not on the court, but in its culture.
“This is a mecca, it’s just like a culture within a culture.”
“we’re here to teach the game of basketball and what it relates to as far as life.