“The Sitdown with Demetrius Spencer” presented by Ball Up Streetball
Ball Up Streetball is back and bigger than ever! This summer, the Ball Up team is touring around the United States taking on the top competition from 9 major cities from New York to Los Angeles. The tour kicks off in Kansas City on June 22, and this year looks like it’s going to be the best tour yet. After their previous tour which toured all over Asia, we had the chance to talk to Demetrius Spencer, CEO of Ball Up Streetball, and discuss with him about the upcoming tour, their latest addition, what they look for in open runs and more!
Ballislife: So, what’s on the agenda for Ball Up this year?
Demetrius Spencer: For this year we have turned it into this huge national competition around the tour. Last year with Gary Smith being the winner, it allowed an opportunity for guys all over the United States to come out and try out and eventually have an opportunity to turn their careers into being a professional athlete.
This year the judges will be myself, Rafer “Skip to my Lou” Alston, and Sebastian Telfair and in each market we’ll have a special NBA celebrity judge. Everyone comes to try out the morning of the event, and we’ll select the top ten guys to play in the event that night, and then that night, either Rafer or Sebastian will co-coach with the NBA celebrity judge against the Ball Up Team. At the end of the night, the judges will pick two players to award them MVP honors to represent their city. In the conclusion of our tour, we’re bringing all the MVP recipients from every city to our combine camp.
Our combine camp will have myself, Rafer Alston, and Sebastian Telfair judging the prospects and we’ll pick the top ten guys from the combine camp. These top ten guys will then play in the championship game in Dallas coached by a legendary NBA player against the Ball Up Team. From there, Rafer, Sebastian and myself along with that NBA coach will pick one guy to win a contract to join our team like what G Smith did from last year.
BIL: Did G Smith have to do all this last year to win the contract?
DS: Yeah, he went from winning in New York to the combine camp, which was held in Atlanta, to the Championship Game in Las Vegas coached by Chauncey Billups to winning the contract. Since then, Gary has now traveled the world with us and started with his first game in Indonesia. He’s played numerous games in China with the Ball Up Team, and now he’s getting ready for the US tour with us.
BIL: Nice, yeah, we heard a story about when he was in China, he dunked on AI (Allen Iverson)?
DS: (Laughs) He’s gonna have to tell you that story. I’m not going to say it didn’t happen, but I don’t remember that moment, but I do remember when we played a CBA team in China, G Smith dunking over their 6’10 guy and their 6’8 guy numerous times that I, honestly, have not seen a guy get that high in the air in a long time. One time, the center went up to block the shot and jump with him and Gary just elevated, bounced off him and dunked on him. It was insane! When he had the ball stretched all the way out at the top, the ball must’ve been almost at the top of the backboard.
BIL: Yeah, G’s a monster. That’s how he’s always been. He has no fear.
DS: He’s fearless, he’s a great addition to our team because he goes out to win every time, like you said he has no fear, and is extremely talented.
BIL: Getting back to the tour with your open runs, it seems like you guys are a lot different than tours in the past where they went for the flashiest player. When you guys have the open runs, what are you looking for in a player?
DS: We’re looking for the best ballplayers. We really put them through real skill challenges and drills. It’s not just an open run 5 on 5 event. There’s a lot of skill challenges they go through; there’s a shooting contest, a dunk contest, etc. We put them through “3 on 2, 2 on 1” transition drills as well as 1 on 1 drills to really see who’s effective in that style of play.
BIL: In these open runs, what are a lot of common misconceptions people have?
DS: The common misconception is that some guys think we just want to see a bunch of tricks, and that’s not necessarily true, nowhere close to true. We want great ballplayers. Now, do we want guys that have style, flash and personality? Of course. That’s the same with any exciting team. If you take the Clippers for instance, and you watch Chris Paul, he has style and flash when he plays. If you watch Blake get up when he dunks, he has personality and style. Of course we look for those things, but we’re not looking for those dudes that stand there and do tricks with the ball and that type of stuff.
BIL: For sure, so what motivates you and your team to keep improving Ball Up and keep taking it to the next level each year?
DS: I’ll give you a number of things. One of the most memorable moments for me was at the championship game at the end of Season 2. After Gary Smith won the contract, he said, “Now I can call home and tell my kids and family that their dad is a true professional athlete.” Knowing that we can change people’s lives and knowing we can provide the millions of ballplayers in the US and internationally an opportunity to really take what they love, what their passion is, and what they’re skilled at and turned that into a profession drives us daily.
We open the door for the mass and let these guys the opportunity to live out their dreams and make it a true profession.
It looks like Ball Up is ready for another successful tour as Demetrius is looking to take the streetball game to another level. The first stop is in Kansas City, Missouri at Independence Events Center on June 22. If you’re looking to win the next Ball Up contract, you can check out the tour’s schedule, locations, and more at http://www.ballup.com/.
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