Basketball has been good to Kenyon Murray and now he is showing his gratitude by using the game as a positive influence on kids.
The former University of Iowa basketball standout is part of a group that founded the Legacy Basketball Academy in early January. The academy, which also features a non-profit foundation, has one location in Cedar Rapids and one in Pleasant Hill just east of Des Moines.
Murray said helping kids improve as basketball players is only a small part of the academy’s overall mission.
“It’s bigger than that,” he said. “Basketball is probably the smallest part of it. What we want to do is introduce the kids to opportunities through education, whether it’s skill development, tutoring or introducing them to healthy living through nutritional information.
“Also, there is community service proponent to it, too, because the foundation is looking to partner with different non-profit entities around the state of Iowa. We think kids need to understand what giving back means to people.”
The foundation to which Murray referred was established to help fund the different programs offered by the academy. The foundation will help pay for travel expenses, skill development and education. It also will provide assistance for those who can’t afford the costs.
A capital fund campaign has been launched with a goal of raising $500,000 for the foundation.
The Legacy Basketball Academy is for boys and girls in third grade through high school. Programs are offered year round.
Murray has been pleased with the initial response, with 130 kids having joined the academy in barely fourth months. He said most of the kids are from the Des Moines area, but the academy hopes to attract more interest in eastern Iowa by holding an open house later this month at its Cedar Rapids site, which is currently the Active Edge Fitness facility on Edgewood Road. Murray said his group also wants to open a facility in the Iowa City area.
“I don’t know if we need both, but it would be nice to have a facility that could accommodate people from both areas,” said Murray, who lives in Cedar Rapids with his wife and three children. “So we’re in the process of working on something.”
Murray, who grew up in Battle Creek, Mich., and played small forward at Iowa from 1992-96, said the academy doesn’t cater just to the elite players, but to kids from all skill levels. Each player is evaluated and has a skill development program designed specifically for them.
“We want to be known as a development program,” Murray said. “We don’t want to be known as an AAU program. We don’t want to be known as an elite basketball program. We want to be known as an academy. And with an academy you learn how to play basketball.”
Ankeny resident Julian Seay joined forces with Murray to create the Legacy Basketball Academy because he shared the same vision. They met through a mutual friend, former Iowa basketball player Darryl Moore. Cedar Rapids native Al O’Bannon also serves as a coach and program coordinator.
Seay has an extensive AAU coaching background, but he was sort of burned out by the experience. He also felt there was a need to provide kids with more opportunities to develop their individual skills and their work habits rather than just play games.
“Our main goal with these kids is attitude and effort,” Seay said. “And those are the things that you can control. That stuff carries over in life.”
The academy will feature AAU travel teams, including an elite team that competes at the national level, but stocking those teams with star players is not a priority.
“We understand that the competitive teams are something that people want,” Murray said. “But the vision of our program is to be able to service any and every kid that wants to learn how to play basketball.
“Will we fill teams? Yeah. But that’s not really our main focus. Our focus is taking the kids that want to get better, improve their skills and have them go back to their high school team or whatever and be better players for them.”
Education is another focus of the academy. Kids will be taught about the importance of being good citizens, about staying active and about eating properly. Murray and Seay both believe strongly in yoga and want to add it to the academy’s list of programs.
“We want to add yoga and try to give nutrition ideas,” Seay said. “Just try to educate the parents and the kids a lot more.”
Legacy Basketball Academy Staff
Kenyon Murray, program director/coach
Julian Seay, program director/coach
Al O’Bannon, community liaison/coach
The Orange Planet
5850 Metro East Drive
Pleasant Hill, Ia., 50327
Phone: (515) 261-0030
Active Edge Fitness
2120 Edgewood Road SW
Cedar Rapids, Ia., 52404
$25 tryout fee
Program fees (boys and girls)
March-July $1,375 or $275 per month
Tryouts for 2011-12 will begin in August; there will be 10 spots to fill for the elite level team and 10 spots to fill for the developmental team
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball