Former CYO and CK Hoops Standout Now Plays in NBA

Brooklyn’s own Jose Alvarado, who played CYO basketball at St. Ann’s in Flushing and high school hoops at Christ the King, returned to Barclays Center Jan. 15 as his New Orleans Pelicans battled the Brooklyn Nets. (Photo: Courtesy New Orleans Pelicans Media Relations)

At every level he’s played, local basketball standout Jose Alvarado has had doubters who have questioned whether not he’s good enough to play at the next level.

Well, those same doubters can simply look at the roster of the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans to see how their comments have affected Alvarado.

Not one bit.

In his rookie season, Alvarado has been seeing occasional minutes on basketball’s biggest stage. The 23-year-old 6-foot guard hails from Williamsburg and began his journey to the NBA right here in the Diocese of Brooklyn.

While attending P.S. 200 in Queens, Alvarado played Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) basketball at St. Ann’s, Flushing. It was here that his passion for the game developed, thanks to the dedication of his coaches at every level.

“Thank God for my parents who put me in the right situation,” Alvarado said. “Playing in the CYO league helped me so much. It helped improve my game and make me feel confident that I could do it. The coaches trusted me and just let me be Jose.”

Jose being Jose wound up leading him to Middle Village’s nationally renowned basketball powerhouse: Christ the King H.S. He spent all four of his high school years playing for the Royals and as a senior averaged 17.9 points per game – good enough for a spot on the CHSAA’s ‘AA’ All-League First Team. He was also a three-time Tablet All-Star from 2015-2017.

“Coach (Joe) Arbitello and the whole coaching staff at Christ the King do a tremendous job on young kids such as I was,” said Alvarado. “They prepared me mentally and physically for the next challenge.

“It’s a high school, but it’s not a regular high school. Coach Arbitello brought in guys who played in college who told us stories, and we’d learn from them.”

From there, Alvarado spent the next four years at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. As a senior last March, he helped guide the Yellow Jackets to an ACC Conference title while also earning Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Yet despite these accolades in college, Alvarado was not selected in the summer 2021 NBA draft. The Pelicans though signed him to a two-way contract – intended for players to spend part of their season in the NBA as well as the NBA’s G League for developing players.

“I heard all the doubters saying I was too small and might be just a good college player,” Alvarado said. “I never really paid mind to it. My whole life I’ve heard everybody saying, ‘He’s good, but there’s something about him that won’t allow him to make it.’ I was never that flashy, but I was also the guy who was going to try to win.”

So far in his first season, he’s been soaking it all in and learning as much as possible from his coaches and veteran teammates – while also learning from his mistakes. A highlight of the season just passed, when on Jan. 15 the Pelicans visited Barclays Center to take on the Brooklyn Nets back in Alvarado’s old stomping grounds.

“It was the first time since Christ the King that I was back home,” said Alvarado, who also said he had chills as he walked into the arena. “It was crazy to see my parents with an NBA jersey on.”

In professional sports, it’s all about an athlete getting an opportunity and then performing well once that opportunity arises. We’ll see how things turn out for Alvarado as he continues establishing himself in the league. All he’s done at every level is keep his head up, work extremely hard, and always try to be the best version of himself.

“I knew once I had my opportunity, I’d take care of it,” he said. “That’s what I’ve been doing my whole life.”

Contact Jim Mancari via email at