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NCAA and partners open public basketball court on the East Side

PUBLISHED April 1, 2021 | News

The legacy of the 2021 NCAA women’s basketball championship grew Thursday with a new public basketball court unveiled on the city’s East Side.

The court, decked out in popping colors and “Final Four” graphics, opened to the public on Thursday at the Eastside Boys and Girls Club off Martin Luther King Drive. Funding was partially provided by the NCAA Women’s Basketball organization alongside other groups.

“I could have never imagined what was once a rundown tennis court being transformed into a world-class basketball court for club kids, and the entire community, to enjoy,” said Ada Saenz, interim director of the Boys and Girls Club of San Antonio, at the opening. “This park could be the spark that changes a young person’s life.”

Among the young people planning to use the court is 9-year-old Draedyn Daniels, who said he plays basketball every day in hopes of one day becoming a player in the NBA. Daniels, who normally plays in the court inside the Boys and Girls Club building, said he likes the colors of the new court.

The park is located in a zip code ranking in the city’s bottom quartile for average household income, according to U.S. Census figures.

The dedication ceremony featured former WNBA player Nancy Lieberman, who sunk the court’s debut shot with a backward-facing, catapult-style throw from half-court. It took several attempts. Lieberman is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and a two-time Olympic athlete.

Funding for the court and related park improvements came from the Nancy Lieberman Charities, the NCAA Women’s Basketball organization, and San Antonio Sports. Additional funding came from the John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation, which is part of the San Antonio Area Foundation.

“Dream Court” is emblazoned on the court’s center circle. It is the 37th school park that has been improved and made public by San Antonio Sports. The organization’s park program started in 2012.

Russ Bookbinder, president and CEO of San Antonio Sports, said the NCAA tournament “breathed new life” into the city through more than $27 million in direct spending, as well as providing an inspiration to the city’s young athletes.