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Youth Basketball League Continues Legacy

Ed Hill | 8/12/2009, 9:02 a.m.

The Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area has long been known for producing some of the top high school and college basketball players in the country, mostly due to the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) local and national competition, which provides the opportunity to develop the talent level.

Helping to facilitate that reputation is The Tom Jones Summer Youth Basketball League, one of the nation€s best youth leagues. Now in its 13th year, the league was started in 1996 by Mitch Credle to honor the late Tom Jones, a pioneer with youth sports in the city at the then Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls Club. It has since merged with the Greater Washington Boys and Girls Clubs. This year, the league held their 12th Annual All Star game on Thu., Aug. 6 at the 3D-10 Greater Washington Boys and Girls Club in Northwest.

€Mr. Jones,€ as he was affectionately called by the hundreds of young men whose lives he touched during a span of over 20 years, started the Number 10 Club, which was based in the Petworth and Cardoza corridor in Northwest, and began in the basement of his house in the early 1960s. He was one of the first individuals in the city to push for organized basketball for the younger age groups.

€I came up with the idea for the summer league when I attended a function in 1995 that was honoring pioneers and legends of the Police Boys and Girls Clubs,€ said Credle, who formerly played three sports for Jones and is now a homicide detective with the Metropolitan Police Department.

Anthony Blackwell (l) is defended by Deandre Kelly during the under 12 game. Photo By John E. DeFreitas
€Somehow, they did not recognize Mr. Jones and that inspired me to start a league in his honor. It started out as just a league featuring a few teams in the local area. Little did I know that it would grow to what it has become,€ Credle said.

This past summer, the Tom Jones Summer League featured three age groups: 11-and-unders, 12-and-unders and 13-and-unders. There were eight teams in each age group from all over the metropolitan area, including the D.C. Assault program, regarded as the elite AAU program in the area and one of the best in the U.S. Each team played eight games during the regular season, including an all-star game and playoffs.

€Mitch [Credle] did a great job of laying the foundation for the league,€ said Hanif Hill, who took over for Credle last year.

€The league has grown each year and there is top level competition. If you want to get better individually and see how you stack up against completion, this is the place. From a team standpoint, the league helps you get ready for national competition. I would venture to say that there is not another league for kids this age in the country where they can get this kind of top tier competition.€