Friday, February 21, 2020
Every time New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson swats a shot into the stands or puts down a thunderous dunk, part of Spartanburg cheers.
Zion, who’s verging on becoming a star identified by one name (think Beyoncé), brought Spartanburg’s basketball credibility to another level during his time at Spartanburg Day School, where he became a high school phenom. He then moved on to Duke University where he became a national star, and now, he’s a starter and the face of an NBA franchise.
But Zion isn’t the only strong connection Spartanburg County has to basketball. With high school and college teams churning out impressive feats and standout talent, a thriving youth sports scene and public facilities encouraging children countywide to get active and involved with basketball, the Hub City is quietly becoming a hoops town.
A couple of years ago, Spartanburg was named the best college basketball city in South Carolina (and #31 in the U.S.) by WalletHub, a personal finance website.
The Wofford College men’s basketball team finished the 2018-19 season undefeated in Southern Conference play, winning the conference championship and earning an NCAA Tournament bid. There, the Terriers beat Seton Hall in the first round before falling to perennial powerhouse, Kentucky.
Along with Wofford’s men’s and women’s teams, Spartanburg is home to another pair of NCAA Division I programs – the USC Upstate men’s and women’s basketball teams, which moved to the larger Big South Conference in 2018.
Upward Star Center is home to youth and adult basketball leagues, camps, and developmental programs, even tournaments featuring high school players from across the region and around the U.S.
The City of Spartanburg offers open league – a league for adults, open to all skill levels, running from April to June – and the industrial league, designed to give employees at companies in Spartanburg County access to health and wellness opportunities along with fun and recreation.
The City’s basketball efforts stretch beyond the leagues offered in Spartanburg, though.
On the Northside, a community in the midst of a major revitalization, sits a set of refurbished basketball courts painted bright red and blue by Bannan Blasko LLC.. The courts were remodeled with the vibrant paint shortly before an event sponsored by Adidas (which has a sprawling distribution facility in Spartanburg) that showcased the new spaces.
The likeness of Spartanburg’s basketball giant – both in stature and meaning to the Hub City – Zion Williamson is proudly displayed on another set of basketball courts, these at Stewart Park in the City’s Highland community. Zion was painted on the court thanks to a City effort and a Mountain Dew sponsorship. The courts are the new centerpiece of the eight-acre Stewart Park, which also features playgrounds, a walking trail, picnic shelter and more.
Whether you’re looking for a place to take the kids to use up some energy or looking for a way to stay healthy after work, Spartanburg has got your basketball needs covered. Now lace up your sneakers, take the court and practice that jump shot!