By Anthony Brancaleone
Globally known for wowing crowds in streetball games with amazing ball-handling skills, Grayson “The Professor” Boucher is arguably the most popular streetball player in history. After many years and countless hours of training in the gym, his driveway, at basketball camps, and youth and AAU basketball, Boucher has developed first-rate skills. He has played in more than 40 countries and is considered a basketball icon.
Standing 5’10” tall and weighing in at 150 pounds – not exactly big by basketball standards, even for a point guard – Boucher says he made up for what he lacked in stature with dedication, drive and love of the game.
“I was smaller in high school, which meant I really had to prove myself to earn the starting varsity position at point guard,” says Boucher, who won the position and later was given the moniker “The Professor” for his uncanny ability to “school” opponents. “Basketball was always going to be part of my career, but you don’t have to be a professional streetballer to make mastering an athletic skill worthwhile,” he says. “Sports teach young people discipline and confidence, offer a form of expression, and keep kids in shape and out of trouble.”
Many of The Professor’s skills have been cataloged and can be easily found on YouTube. At the heart of his on court “lectures” are what seem to be superhuman ball-handling skills, and an ability to surprise opponents with the unexpected. I asked The Professor if he could offer any tips on how to improve a player’s game, and this is what he said:
- Get used to staying low. In basketball you want to protect the ball. Tall players are taught to keep the ball high and out of reach for smaller pickpocket defenders. If you stay low when making your move to the basket it will maximize explosion and quickness, but it also makes stealing the ball much more difficult against defenders. Some of the best moves are made below the knees.
- Footwork is key. When trying to master certain aspects of the game, especially when it comes to offense, mastering the footwork is key. Once the footwork for a move is understood, it becomes easier to practice and emulate the move. Things to help understand great footwork are watching great players play with a close eye, taking note of how they execute moves with their feet and watching footwork in slow motion on TiVo or a smartphone.
- Train at the speed of the game. Don’t get stuck in practice. Your muscles won’t be ready to take on full speed motions come game time if you don’t match your training with the actual speed of the game. Here, you may also want to combine other training techniques: stay low, get comfortable dribbling the ball while stationary (which your coach may not like during an actual game) and add the challenge of reduced friction with gloves and a slick wrap over the ball.
- Student of the game. Being a constant learner is key to becoming a great ball player. Always realizing that no matter what level you’re at there’s always something new to learn to become a better player. Look at Michael Jordan – a guy considered by many the best to ever play the game. He was still making massive strides in his skill set offensively and defensively into the mid 90s, as his career was winding down. Same can be said of many of the NBA greats. That goes to show no matter what level you’re at, or where you rank among your teammates and peers, there is always new things to be learned in order to improve your game.
Born and raised in the small town of Keizer, Oregon, Boucher practiced regularly from 4-8 hours per day. He made a household name for himself during the And 1 Mixtape Tour (2003) where he schooled opponents on the court. Soon, people everywhere were calling Boucher “The Professor”. He has over 200 million views on YouTube, with over 1 million followers. Boucher recently launched Ball Up Streetball, and has partnered with Powerhandz to produce performance enhancing products for athletes.