The Utica community is fortunate to have so many great summer events.

One that may fly under the radar is the best men’s and women’s summer pro-am basketball in Upstate New York - the King of Kings Summer Pro-Am Basketball Leagues.

Just like events such as the Boilermaker, Great American Irish Festival and others, King of Kings was an idea that started from a few people and blossomed into a vital part of the Mohawk Valley summer experience.

Our model is the urban summer leagues found in places like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. With the support of businesses and individuals, King of Kings completed its 13th successful season in 2017. We are now tipping off our fundraising campaign for our 14th season that begins in June.

Unlike some other summer events, our only revenue sources are business sponsors and individual contributions. King of Kings does not charge admission, and never will. From our beginnings, we have seen community service as our mission. The majority of our fans are low income and students.

Education is a major component of our program. For several years, we offered SAT prep instruction. Last year and again this season, we will provide a reading and mindfulness program for 25 Utica children in grades 3-5. It improved their reading comprehension, while they also learned relaxation and concentration techniques.

Of course, King of Kings is best known for high quality basketball. We receive certification from the NCAA to allow Division I players to participate in our men’s and women’s leagues. Fans see the best current and former college, pro and high school players from Upstate New York. The great majority of players come from outside the Mohawk Valley, and come to Utica because of the competition.

Through the years, nearly 100 major college athletes have competed. Fourteen have played in either the NBA or WNBA, including Jimmer Fredette, Michael Carter-Williams, Tyler Lydon, Tyler Cavanaugh, Rakeem Christmas, Jerami Grant, CJ Fair, Alexis Peterson, Brittany Sykes and Brianna Kiesel. Others have played professionally in other countries or the U.S.

Most King of Kings athletes currently or previously played in Division II or III collegiate basketball programs, or were exceptional prep players. For players who have completed college careers, our league is the place where they can still compete at a high level and exercise their passion for the game.

There are eight teams in our men’s league who play on Monday and Wednesday evenings, and six in the women’s who play on Tuesday. Games are at Mohawk Valley Community College. It costs us more than $26,000 per year to run an eight-week season. Expenses include gym usage and security, referees, insurance, uniforms and our reading program.

King of Kings has 501(c)(3) status and contributions are tax deductible. We operate under the umbrella of the Oneida Square Project in Utica.

We are currently reaching out to potential sponsors. If you would like to support our program, Make checks payable to: King of Kings and Mail care of the Oneida Square Project, 500 Plant St., Utica, NY 13502.

Doneilous King is a co-founder of ther King of Kings program. He lives in Utica.