Knicks star Randle pledges support for Bronx basketball school

Julius Randle visited the Earl Monroe New Renaissance Basketball School on Nov. 9 to announce his campaign to donate to the school for each 3-pointer he scores this season.

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Mitesh Shrestha

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle spoke at the Earl Monroe New Renaissance Basketball school gym in the Bronx to celebrate his #30 for 3! campaign. Through his partnership with the school, Randle plans to donate $500 for every three-pointer he makes in the season, which will assist the school in developing its academic programs. (Staff Photo by Mitesh Shrestha)

By Mitesh Shrestha, Sports Editor

Early in a Tuesday afternoon last week, the Earl Monroe New Renaissance Basketball School gym was filled with the reverberating echoes of students screaming, basketballs bouncing and sneakers squeaking. Students converged on every missed shot in a blur, breaking out into impromptu pickup games. Other students cheered them on from less chaotic pockets of the gym. All this excitement was in anticipation of the arrival of New York Knicks All-Star Julius Randle.

Randle’s Nov. 9 visit celebrated a new partnership between the Knicks forward and the school. The new #30 for 3! campaign, which references Randle’s jersey number 30, promises a $500 donation for every 3-pointer he makes during the 2021-22 NBA season. This contribution will allow the school to further develop its literacy and mathematics intervention programs, a point of emphasis for the school’s founder Dan Klores. 

“We have to hire five full-time literacy interventionists and 30 math tutors [while] way over budget, so he’s a gift,” Klores said, referring to Randle. 

A brief press conference began with Klores and school namesake and former Knicks All-Star Earl Monroe discussing how the partnership would allow the school to afford its overarching goals. Monroe also revealed the personal connection between the two eras of Knicks stars that led to this philanthropic partnership. Randle closed the announcement with a brief but heartfelt speech in which he expressed the significance of education and his belief in the students’ ability to succeed. 

The visit took a more lighthearted route as it shifted to an informal 3-point shooting contest between Randle and a few students. A crowd quickly surrounded the contestants, alternating between cheers with each shot made and disappointed groans with each miss. Ninth-grader Khary Williams felt the pressure of the situation.

“[The attention] it’s a new experience for me, it’s a new experience for almost everyone here,” Williams said. 

While the ultimate results of the competition weren’t clear, the impact of Randle’s visit on the students was evident to school principal Kern Mojica.

“It puts forth that there’s a lot of people that are supporting their education and their growth,” Mojica said. “That’s something we reiterate to the kids, in that people care about their education and their growth and development and they should care about it too.”

As part of his visit to the Earl Monroe Renaissance high school, Randle competed against students in a three-pointer contest. (Staff Photo by Mitesh Shrestha)

The #30 for 3! fundraising initiative has further cemented Randle’s place in a city where he’s found a career resurgence. In his second season in New York, Randle posted a career-best year that netted him the 2021 Most Improved Player award and an All-NBA second team selection. A significant catalyst in Randle’s resurgence was the development of his 3-point shooting ability — he shot for 41.1% from beyond the arc last season after making only 27.7% of his 3-point attempts the year before.

While his numbers and efficiency have dropped marginally through the early part of the current season, Randle is primed to rebound from a disappointing start and improve on last year’s performance. The Knicks’ offseason acquisitions of guards Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker should free up defensive attention, thereby creating more open shots and playmaking opportunities for Randle. Following last week’s visit, he’ll have the full support of the school community behind him.

“Our school is going to be a Knicks school now that Julius is on board,” Mojica said. 

Contact Mitesh Shrestha at [email protected]