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Hoop Dreams

The Basketball's Disease

Hoop Dreams  The Basketball's Disease

The meaning of the word “hoop” it’s not easy to interpret in Italian, especially when used in basketball’s context. While you’re reading, on the other side of the ocean a boy will be probably dribbling in a playground, jumping “to the rim” to realize his dream, to become a professional basketball player.

In 1994 a movie called Hoop Dreams was presented at the Sundance Film Festival, winning the best documentary of the year award, and then awarded and praised all around the world in the next year. The documentary it’s about a story very similar to Ben Wilson’s, even if the high school is St. Joseph, Illinois.

Often in the US, basketball is a pass to get out from the ghetto, a ticket to avoid to lose the life. The life we’re talking about it’s Agee and Gates’ one, two afro-American talents who live in Chicago’s suburbs. Their school is mostly made up by white kids, and so the race, the social class, the economy, the education and values are all central in the movie. The American school system is set to allow the student to graduate with sports scholarships. None of them managed to become a pro, and so none of their Hoop Dreams was realized.

When a Hoop Dream becomes reality

There are players whom almost never went to school because their drive to become champions was too strong. In the last years, there are many talents who skipped college to become pros. The first was Reggie Harding in 1963, but besides Darryl Dawkins, Bill Willoughby and Moses Malone between the ’70 and the ’80, there weren’t so many talents capable o in the history of the game. Until a young guy from Concord High School, In Elkhart, Indiana, appeared. His nickname was of remaining The Reign Man, but his real name was Shawn Travis Kemp. Unfortunately, Kemp never managed to get a 700 SAT point, necessary to have a basketball scholarship.

After Kemp, the school sports binomial it’s over and between 1995 and 2005 the number of kids jumping from the high school to the NBA triples. From Kevin Garnett to Kobe Bryant, from Jermaine O’Neal to Tracy MacGrady, passing by Al Harrington and Rashard Lewis. And then LeBron James (2003), Dwight Howard (2004), Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry (2001), Amare Stoudemire (2002), Josh Smith, Sebastian Telfair, JR Smith and Shaun Livingstone (2004), Andrew Bynum and Monta Ellis (2005). Even Brandon Jennings skipped college to spend a year in Italy.

The School of Champions

In a school “in the middle of nowhere”, it came out an enormous amount of pro basketball players. In the beginning, the idea was to give scholarships to kids in order to keep them out of the streets. It wasn’t a proper school, but kid ofter came there for their last year, before to take the decision. The school’s motto is “The Turning Point”. The place is on top of a hill in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia. It’s the Oak Hill Road and there’s nothing after it.  

New York City isn’t far away from the academy, it’s about an hour and a half, but you only have one ride starting from the hill’s top to the station in the valley. Rod Strickland used to run away from that “prison”, and many times he get lost and founded by the monks.

The stepped by this school also players like Ron Mercer, 1996 NCAA champion, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo and Josh Smith.

Right now, as always, they are in the top five high schools, fighting to win the championship. Mind my word, because they have so many interesting players, already in the target of great colleges like Kansas, Arizona State, Virginia Tech, Duke and USC. All incredible talents with an only great dream.