Park City’s Kingdon helps rule the court
Following their big win, Sam Kingdon and his teammates spent the rest of their day on a sunny Southern California beach.
That was the cherry on top of their performance playing for the 15U Utah Pump-N-Run club basketball team at the Double Pump Three Stripes tournament in Anaheim, Calif., in mid July. The club hoops team, consisting of the top 15-and-under talent in the Beehive state — plus players from Idaho and Nevada — won the tournament 60-50 over Double Pump Elite, based out of Los Angeles, Calif.
At the time, the Los Angeles club team was ranked No. 8 in the nation in its respective age group. Kingdon said he and his team caught many folks by surprise.
"We always think we’re going to win the thing when we go into big tournaments," said the 6-foot-5 Park City High School sophomore. "We’re all the best high school players from our high school teams (for our age). But it was a lot different from Utah basketball. Kids were dunking and there were a lot more athletic players.
"All the people there were saying, ‘Oh, look at this Utah team, they’re not going to do anything.’ We beat everyone we played."
Greg Kingdon was in Anaheim and was able to watch his son’s team shock a plethora of teams at the high-profile summer tournament.
"I knew they were good, but I didn’t think, quite honestly, that they were going to win it all," he said. "You get going against these teams from California and Nevada and they’re really good. But you never know until you go and play them.
"I think it’s a great experience to play against the top talent across the country. As a parent, the best part for me was watching (Sam) hanging around these other boys that have similar interests. It was neat to see him spend three weeks with other kids that want to play basketball and work hard."
Kingdon’s team, which went 15-5 overall this summer, played in two more high-profile basketball tournaments in Las Vegas following the victory in Anaheim. The team advanced to the championship game in the Bigfoot Hoops Las Vegas Live tournament before falling to the Windy City Magic, based out of Chicago, Ill. Despite the second-place finish, the Utah group defeated the Colorado Hawks, which also held a top-10 nationwide ranking.
In Las Vegas last weekend at the Adidas Super 64 tournament, the team was eliminated prior to advancing to the final four. Kingdon’s Pump-N-Run squad lost to Aim High California, coached by Kenny Smith, two-time NBA champion and popular basketball analyst on TNT.
"It’s a good experience because I played against some of the top level of competition in the country and learned how to play against a lot better players and physical players," Kingdon explained.
Park City High School head coach Caleb Fine said seeing Kingdon get such valuable experience on such a large stage will help ease the pain of losing all of last year’s starting five to graduation.
"He’s a good tool to have," he said. "It’s huge for his growth. It prepares him to play at a high level next year. It also gives him the confidence to know he can play. Part of varsity basketball is believing you can belong."
Greg Kingdon said his son is a homebody and, after three consecutive weeks on the road playing basketball nonstop, it was nice to see him catch some needed rest and relaxation.
Although the Utah Pump-N-Run summer schedule has reached its end, Kingdon said he will continue to work on his ball-handling skills, long-range shooting and post play.
While he is still young, Kingdon has the talent and potential to lead the program for the next few years, Fine said.
"I’m just going to be working on my game," Kingdon said. "I’m just going to play my hardest and I know I can score a lot of points. It’ll be fun to see what I can do.
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