Dream Chasers

by Jeremy Bauman

This past Saturday at a Long Island University gym located in Brooklyn, NY, aspiring basketball players from all over the country and with varying degrees of experience took the court with the hope that somebody, somewhere was watching them give it their all.

Their goal was simple; to impress a group of overseas coaches and GM’s that were not just in attendance, but able to watch the games live online from their country as well.

Some of the coaches that were in attendance scouting were Coach Mike Taylor from ULM (Germany), Bob Pierce from the Shiga Lakestars (Japan), Atiba Lyons from the Sheffield Sharks (England), Durell Sanford from Gimle (Norway) and Brian Rowsom (Japan). There were also supposed to be scouts/coaches watching online from Holland, Spain, Poland, Quatar, Uruguay, Argentina and Mexico.

One advantage of watching online is that although it is possible to watch them games life, it is just as easy to go to ProPlayerVideo.com and view the games now, tomorrow or next week.

All of this was made possible by the Pro Player Video staff, which put this event together and feels that it is onto something big. In this new age where the internet has become, in essence, the best way for hopeful basketball players to market themselves to professional scouts and coaches in other countries, Tyler Smith has taken notice.

“A few years ago I started a website called ProPlayervideo.com and it’s a site where players and agents can post game videos and profiles online and where they can send it out to pro teams in very high quality,” says Smith, a professional player himself. “From there we got a really nice response. We’ve had over 500 guys on the site who are playing professionally or are looking to play professionally. “

Tyler continues, “A year ago we kind of had a vision to put a basketball camp together and we have a really great venue here at LIU in terms of the facilities and the referees and just how its all come together.

“You know for us its great to have more than just the website but an actual event where there’s people and there’s a physical presence to it instead of just an out in space company. We are really trying to help players and agents connect with pro teams so that they can play professionally and get them a pro contract. For me, I’m a pro player as well in Japan so I understand what these guys are going through. They’re hungry to find that next job and this event offers an opportunity for players and coaches to interact, as well as agents.”

With players from schools from Division I DePaul and Central Michigan to Division III Paterson and East Texas Baptist, every player that was there was on a different life path but had two things in common: a love for the game and the urge to keep their dream alive.

Pro Player Video Still shot from ASG at LIU. “I’ve been overseas for six years and I’ve had mostly good experiences but the last place I was at I was only there until Christmas time and you know, it was just a tough situation,” says skilled 6-8 big man Gerrit Brigitha, who has played professionally in Holland, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Finland and Switzerland. “So I’m just here trying to get some fresh looks from some different countries. The agent that I have now isn’t really big in Japan or Asia or South America and a lot of those coaches are going to be here. These days when the economy is so bad in Europe, its good to get as many opportunities as you can. “

Then you have a guy who could probably be earning big bucks in a different fashion rather than trying out for an overseas contract.

“I’m just here trying to get seen, just like everybody else,” says the 6-3 sharp-shooting guard Alex Zampier, who just graduated from Yale this spring after majoring in sociology and economics. “I went to a smaller school and I’m just trying to get as big an opportunity as I can to get my name out there and have somebody see me play. I just want to get a good contract, just like everybody else.”

And then you have somebody who has not and will not give up on attaining his childhood dream.

“Most scouts already know what players could do, I’m just trying to do the little things—play defense, block shots, rebound,” says 6-7 bruising forward Karron Clark, who graduated from DePaul University in 2008.  I’m trying to get to the League, if not, the highest level in Europe. It’s not gonna be offensively—they already told me its gonna be defensively.

The advantage of attending a camp like this for the players is clear—but what about the coach who went out of his way to get here in the hope of finding a player to slide into his roster overseas?

“I think that right off the bat you help yourself by seeing all the players here and you get to evaluate them,” the energetic Head Coach Mike Taylor of ULM from Germany stated.  “I’m looking for big men and there aren’t really too many big men here. But at the same time, you never know how your team needs change so you try to get as many people as you can on the list. I’m really happy to get to see all these players because now you get to track them, see where they go and its very beneficial.

“I know Tyler Smith and obviously his experience as a player and with Pro Player Video and I think he’s on to something very, very excellent for players going into the European market to try and continue their careers.”

As Taylor said, Smith is hoping that this is just the first camp of many of its nature and even more advancements that will make it easier for players to be seen all around the world.

“I’m really hoping that this camp can be a building block for some greater things, maybe we could do some more camps,” says Smith. “We’re streaming the video live online, which is a special thing and I don’t think anybody else is doing for this kind of a camp. We’re hoping to take that live streaming and do more with it, at more camps and maybe in other pro leagues around the world. It would be great if there was a website where you could go and watch any pro basketball league and team around the world.”

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