“It’s a landmark in New York City. It’s a staple. That is the Madison Square Garden of street basketball courts in the world.”

That is how Corey Williams — a street ball legend, per Complex — described Rucker Park to The New York Times.

He has good reason for that belief.

Every summer, New York City and Rucker Park become arguably the center of the basketball world, as NBA stars take advantage of the offseason to play on what has been described as the most famous playground in all of basketball.

Numerous NBA Hall of Famers have played at Rucker Park over the years, and some, such as Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor) and Julius Erving first made their name playing on the court at West 155th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard.

This summer, BYU basketball coaches Mark Pope and Amber Whiting will make the trip to Rucker Park as part of a Big 12 Conference initiative.

Announced Thursday morning, men’s and women’s basketball coaches from across the Big 12 will lead youth clinics in an event that has been dubbed “Big 12 Hoops in the Park.”

Six men’s basketball head coaches and five women’s basketball head coaches will lead the clinics in New York City.

The men’s coaches include Pope, Scott Drew (Baylor), Wes Miller (Cincinnati), Jerome Tang (Kansas State), Mike Boynton (Oklahoma State) and Jamie Dixon (TCU).

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The women’s coaches involved are Whiting (BYU), Katrina Merriweather (Cincinnati), Ron Hughey (Houston), Jeff Mittie (Kansas State) and Krista Gerlich (Texas Tech).

Big 12 Hoops in the Park will be a one-day event — on Tuesday, July 18 — and will include drills and clinic sessions, with coaches also conducting a Q&A session with participants.

“I look forward to representing the Big 12 in NYC,” Boynton, a Brooklyn native, said in a release. “It’s an incredible opportunity for our conference to pour into a community with such a rich basketball tradition. I’m honored to be selected and can’t wait to see the type of impact we can have on the youth of my home city.” 

Added Merriweather: “I am grateful for the opportunity to represent the Big 12 in New York. The opportunity to teach and create meaningful moments with youth at the historic Rucker Park is an incredible honor and having a homegrown New Yorker with A’riel Jackson in our program makes the event even more special.”

BYU women’s coach Amber Whiting calls out from the bench during a game against Utah at the Marriott Center in Provo on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. Whiting will be joining other Big 12 coaches at a youth clinic at New York City’s Rucker Park in July. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
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