Benton native hopes to enrich young lives through a better basketball experience

STAR POWER:  WNBA star Jewell Loyd has teamed up with a group including Benton native Kyle Kavanaugh to launch a program aimed at providing youth with a more fulfilling basketball experience. (Submitted photo)


Growing up in Benton, Kyle Kavanaugh loved playing basketball, so much that he’s made it into a career.

He treasures the joy of playing in the Bossier Parks & Recreation program, long before he took the court for the Benton Tigers – and played in the BHS band – from 1999-2003.

Kavanaugh broke into coaching as a graduate assistant at Louisiana Tech under Kerry Rupp, and later coached high school ball at Ruston, Cedar Creek and Simsboro. He’s now off the bench and into the business of hoops, partially spurred by memories of an unsuccessful tryout for a summer AAU team.

He’s running two businesses, Essential Coaching and the new Playmakers League, trying to enhance the experience for kids to have the same fun experiences Kavanaugh enjoyed. Kavanaugh is also an assistant athletic director for strategic communications at Louisiana Tech, his alma mater.

While his job at Tech is demanding, Kavanaugh’s lifelong passion for basketball has driven him to help shape his outside businesses, which have resulted in the relaunch of an improved Playmakers League.

“We are trying to provide a supplement to the current models for kids that don’t fit the current system, or are looking for something different, more equitable, and appropriate for youth players,” he says.

Now he’s part of a team, headlined by WNBA star Jewell Loyd, aiming to increase the opportunities for age and developmentally-appropriate youth basketball development across the country, not just in his adopted hometown of Ruston. 

Playmakers League, LLC, combines clinic-like instruction and 3-on-3 league play that features session-to-session teaching progressions to develop skills and teach concepts that comprise basketball intelligence.

It is designed and backed by the research of Dr. Brian McCormick, regarded as one of the most influential basketball minds worldwide over the last 15 years. He has authored several articles and books on youth and coach development, including Cross Over: The New Model of Youth Basketball DevelopmentMcCormick founded Playmakers League in 2009 and, in 2022, partnered with Aseem Rastogi and Kavanaugh of Essential Coaching, LLC, to refresh Playmakers League into the Essential 3v3 Experience.

The Playmakers League aims to ensure more playing time, development, and fun for participants. Playmakers has created differing levels of curricula based on various developmental stages for youth basketball and focuses on what McCormick refers to as “physical literacy.”   

Loyd, the first overall pick in the 2015 WNBA Draft, stars for the Seattle Storm. She is a 2021 Olympic gold medalist, two-time WNBA champion, former WNBA Rookie of the Year, four-time WNBA All-Star, and the former No. 1 ranked women’s 3v3 player in the world and FIBA 3v3 world champion.

She was dubbed “Gold Mamba” by her mentor, Kobe Bryant, early in her professional career. She embodies that mentality in everything she does on and off the court. 

“Mirroring Jewell’s passion and harnessing her unique journey, our goal is to improve the youth development experience using 3v3 and small-sided games. We can think of no better ally to create exponential generational growth than Jewell Loyd in the United States and abroad. This is truly an exciting day for the future of the sport,” said Kavanaugh, who is a co-owner and managing partner of Playmakers.

The Loyd/Playmakers partnership is designed to reach into communities and assist parents, coaches, and administrators in schools and recreation departments to establish Jewell Loyd Playmakers League Chapters nationwide. In addition, the partnership will add more fundamental learning opportunities to youth basketball through a one-stop shop program. 

“We aim to serve communities around the country with the opportunity to learn, grow, and develop their skills and basketball intelligence,” said Rastogi, also a co-owner and managing partner. “Through our curriculum, resources, and developmental models for coaches and players that we have developed alongside our work through Essential Coaching, we feel we are in a better position to accomplish those goals through this partnership.” 

To learn more about Playmakers League, LLC. and how to join the Jewell Loyd/Playmakers partnership to create a chapter, please visit or email