(BINGHAMTON, N.Y.) — On Saturday, Mayor Richard C. David joined representatives from the Broome County Urban League and the Binghamton Parks & Recreation Department to announce upgrades to the Columbus Park basketball courts and to rename the courts in honor of King Rice, a Binghamton High School graduate, college basketball star and current head coach of the Monmouth University men’s basketball team, who played on the courts growingup.
“This project represents a significant investment in a City park that has meant a great deal to generations of young people, and it will ensure that residents can enjoy our basketball courts for years to come,” said Mayor David. “Our community is proud to call Coach Rice one of our own, and renaming the Columbus Park basketball courts in his honor is a well-deserved recognition.”
As part of the approximately $98,000 project, the basketball courts at the downtown park were converted from four half courts to two full courts. Crews milled and paved the area, which had become cracked and worn, to create a smooth, durable surface. The courts also received new hoops, benches, tables and signage.
When weather permits, one court will be painted red, white and blue, Binghamton Patriots colors, and the other will be painted “Tar Heel blue” in honor of Rice’s other alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “King Rice Court” will be painted in white in two locations.
The design and construction was based off input from the Broome County Urban League and community members who have played or coached at the park.
“I am honored and excited to come to Binghamton for this dedication,” said Rice, who attended today’s announcement at Columbus Park. “I'm truly blessed to be here surrounded by my family and friends. I just wish my dad was here to see this.”
Rice graduated from Binghamton High School in 1987 after leading the Patriots to back-to-back New York State Championships in 1985 and 1986. The point guard was named New York Mr. Basketball and a McDonald’s High School All-American his senior year.
At the University of North Carolina under head coach Dean Smith, Rice played in 140 games and registered 629 career assists, sixth-best in UNC history. The Tar Heels won the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Tournament Championship twice and reached the NCAA tournament four times with Rice, including a Final Four appearance in 1991, when Rice was a co-captain.
In 2011, Rice took over as head coach of the men’s basketball team at Monmouth College. The Hawks have a 117-112 record and two regular-season Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) championships during Rice’s tenure. Rice has also been twice named MAAC Coach of the Year.
Rice will be the keynote speaker at the Broome County Urban League’s 50th Anniversary Gala Saturday.
“I think that renaming the court after King Rice is important not only for the youth but for the entire neighborhood,” said Jennifer Lesko, president and chief executive officer of the Broome County Urban League. “King Rice was raised on Susquehanna and Carroll streets, and he worked hard to establish a successful career in basketball as a player and now as a Division I college coach. It is important, especially for our youth, to see people from the community achieving their goals.”
The City of Binghamton Parks & Recreation Department and Engineering Department are responsible for the completion of the basketball court project, which was paid for with Community Development Block Grant funding.
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