Hayward’s Dream Courts facility is already massive in size. And now Nike Basketball has come calling.
By CHACE BRYSON | Editor
Though she claims to have never played competitive basketball — or any sports beyond body building — when it comes to business endeavors and grand visions, Teresa Banks certainly subscribes to the theory of, “Go big, or go home.”
That would be the only way to describe what Banks has built — and is still building — at 22290 Hathaway Ave. in Hayward.
Her creation, Dream Courts, opened a year ago last March and featured seven NBA-size basketball courts inside a 400,000 square-foot building that technically gives it more floor space than Mountain View’s famous Hangar One — which was built to house blimps.
So, yeah. Dream Courts is big.
The seven NBA courts along with the extensive fitness and weight room facilities only comprise about 20 percent of the building’s capacity. The other 80 percent is in development, outlined in different phases.
When the entire project is finished, the facility will be the equivalent of a Las Vegas resort for gym rats and sports junkies.
The full plan calls for 17 NBA regulation courts, one 5,000 seat Arena, 34 high school courts, 38 volleyball courts, six indoor turf fields, 15 batting cages, beach volleyball courts, racquet ball courts, a track, a martial arts and boxing center, two fitness centers, a water plyometrics training center, dance studio, banquet hall, sports bar and grill, four restaurants, retail stores, and a full service academic/tutoring center.
“I have four kids who are athletes,” Banks said. “I wanted a place that could give options to all kids, and wanted to offer as many sports as I could. When we’re all done, the goal is to offer up to 24 sports, 24 hours a day.”
The only thing missing from the Las Vegas resort analogy is rooms to stay in. An area that Banks would undoubtedly consider if she thought it were feasible.
“I love this place,” she said. “I want to build an apartment in here for myself. I could live here for sure.”
The building is big. The vision is bigger. And now it’s exposure is about to get a lot bigger as well.
“We haven’t done any marketing really during the first year,” Banks said. “We’ve actually done quite well just by word of mouth.”
That word of mouth is likely to double after Memorial Day weekend. That’s when Nike Basketball comes to town.
From May 25-28, Dream Courts will play host to the only West Coast event of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League. In its third year, the EYBL has become the premier circuit for elite high school AAU boys basketball programs. It features four sessions in different locations and then concludes by playing its national semifinals and championship at the Nike Peach Jam in South Carolina.
This year, the four EYBL season sessions include stops in Minneapolis (April 20-22), Hampton, VA, (April 27-29), Dallas (May 11-13) and Dream Courts.
This certainly isn’t the first major AAU event Dream Courts has hosted in its first year. Banks was dialed into the basketball scene very early as a mother with kids who play year-round basketball. In fact, her son Lamont Jr., a freshman, played a key role on the St. Joseph Notre Dame team which reached the California Interscholastic Federation Division V state final this past March.
Her time being an AAU parent is originally what led her to formulate her vision for Dream Courts.
“With our kids in AAU we’d travel all over,” Banks said. “But the problem was that we’d go all the way to Vegas and end up playing a team from Sacramento. All the Bay Area teams would go out of state every summer to the same places. I wanted this area to have one of those places.”
And though Dream Courts has hosted several AAU events already, Memorial Day weekend will take things to a new level.
“This is going to be a great thing for the Bay Area and it’s basketball community,” said Mark Olivier, Executive Director of the Oakland Soldiers — which just happened to have the nation’s top 17U ranking on FiveStarBasketball.com heading into EYBL Session II in Virginia the last week of April. “People here are finally going to be able to see what we see when we leave the state. The Soldiers will win those local tournaments, but folks don’t understand the level of basketball that goes on in other places. It’s a different world.”
Now that world is set to descend on the Bay Area, and it’s due in large part to what both Banks and Olivier have created. Olivier and his partners have helped construct one of the most respected and decorated elite AAU programs. The Soldiers been the king of Bay Area AAU hoops for several years now — so much was their reputation that they even suited up a king when Lebron James was on the roster during the summer of 2002.
Now they have a venue fit for a king.
“It’s just a good fit,” Olivier said. “And I think the guys at Nike kind of thought the same thing.”
The EYBL features 40 teams divided into four 10-team divisions. California has one other team besides the Soldiers, the California Supreme based out of L.A. The two teams play in different divisions.
Olivier says that the divisional format leading up to a national champion is something that really elevates the competition at each event.
“When it started the EBYL a few years ago, Nike really understood how to make the summer basketball thing a little bit different,” Olivier said. “How big is a championship to these guys if they play in tournaments every weekend. But if it’s a league and you’re playing for an ultimate goal, that changes things. … People who come and watch will just be blown away at the talent and level of competition.”
The Soldiers held a 7-2 record in EYBL after the first two sessions. The team suffered each of its losses in Session II, a 76-70 loss to the NJ Playaz of New Jersey and a 73-65 loss to The Family of Michigan. However, Oakland was playing without All-State junior Aaron Gordon of Archbishop Mitty-San Jose.
Gordon had been playing on a fractured foot, according to Olivier. And even though it didn’t keep one of the nation’s top recruits from averaging 12 points and seven rebounds during Session I, there was concern that it might not heal properly if he continued to play on it.
“We all agreed he should shut it down,” Olivier said in reference to discussions with Gordon and Soldiers coach Derrick Artis. “He still has the National 18U team he needs to worry about this summer, too. Hopefully he’ll be healthy enough that he can play at Peach Jam (July 18-21).”
Oakland won’t panic, though. There’s still plenty of talent on the Soldiers to pick up the slack — including fellow All-State talent and national recruit, Jabari Bird of Salesian. But more importantly, they have a reputation of playing harder than most.
“Some teams may be more talented than us, but our guys play together,” Olivier said. “We strive to find team guys, and our motto is all about playing hard.”
They should have little trouble playing hard on Memorial Day weekend, when Dream Courts becomes the epicenter of elite AAU basketball.
Just how Banks planned it.
SportStars Magazine: High School Sports Articles Online SportStars is your go-to source for the very best high school sports articles in California. Player and team profiles, game coverage, health and fitness tips and the largest Camps, Clinics & Combine resource for athletes. We're the story behind the stats.