TK All Stars Want To Leap To New Heights
The T.K. All-Stars were tied at 70 with Starrett City in a hot gymnasium at the Summer I.S. 8 Tournament in Jamaica last Monday night. With seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, TK All Stars’ point guard Antonio Cannon Jr. found a way to dribble through three opposing players. A prayer shot bounced of the backboard and went in for a 72-70 win.
TK coach Antonio Cannon Sr. would come back to Rockaway jumping with joy as his team continued an impressive 6-0 week in local tournaments throughout the city. They are not one of the higher profile AAU teams but it’s not for a lack of trying. Cannon Sr. has a competitive squad that has played together since forming at Lefrak City in the fourth grade.
“Lefrak City is a hotbed for basketball and kids wake up and get up playing basketball,” Cannon Sr. said
“So some of the kids, one of them my son, wasn’t picked up by the big programs. He wasn’t getting much time and I was feeling bad.”
Cannon Sr. along with his friend Keith Collins, formed the T.K. All Stars and have kept the kids together from the fourth grade until the present day. For years, they’ve done well at tournaments such as the Kenny Anderson Classic, which they’ve won in their age bracket from 1997 to 2004. TK has also performed well at the Rucker Classic and West 4th Street tournaments.
“We don’t recruit because we have a good nucleus. We have developed such a strong bond because they depend on me and I depend on them,” Cannon says. “I don’t worry about them jumping and going to the next team. We have a nice foundation and a dependable team.”
Attending the higher profile AAU tournaments is a goal that Cannon Sr. now seeks to accomplish. But to travel to tournaments throughout the city and the country takes money. Though the TK All Stars are a not for profit organization, they do not get a sneaker contract from companies like Adidas and Reebok to fund the team.
“I told them we’re going to focus on saving some money, apply for grants and fundraise so we can get into some AAU tournaments,” Cannon Sr. says.
“We’re going to do everything that gives them the best chance for someone to see them. The scouts may not be out there now but if we keep winning, someone will notice you eventually”.
Cannon Sr. wants his backcourt and sons Antonio Jr. and stepson Deytwan Hill to make an impact on the Beach Channel team this season. He’s made an admission that it was a mistake to allow his sons to play while they weren’t performing in school. Cannon Sr. wants his players to do well on the court and to their academics.
Cannon Sr. has enjoyed the time coaching and it may be tough balancing family, work and the team but he wouldn’t trade it for anything.
“I love these guys. We’re just having fun. I almost hate to see that they’re getting older and it’s almost over.”