“The Professor” aka Grayson Boucher is a streetball legend who converted a random tryout into a career as a professional basketball player.
While attending an And1 Mixtape Tour stop in Portland, Oregon in 2003, the 5’10” 155 pound 19-year-old Professor competed in an open run competition prior to that evening’s game and did well enough to get invited back that evening to square off against team And1.
After a solid performance in the game, he joined the team full-time and was suddenly getting paid to play basketball, literally overnight.
In the ensuing seven years he played basketball in over 30 countries. He is currently signed to the Ball Up All-Star team and has been featured in six seasons of “Streetball” on ESPN, five AND1 Mixtape DVD’s, four AND1 commercials and an And1 Video Game.
Known for his slick ball handling, shooting and ability to serve sick lobs and alley-oops to teammates, you watch his moves and it just doesn’t make any sense.
The Professor has since joined forces with Ball Up as one of the featured players on their Ball Up All-Star team starting their fifth year of the “Search For The Next” tour.
This Saturday June 27th, the Ball Up Search for the Next Tour will be in Omaha, Nebraska at the Ralston Arena and will feature New Orleans Pelicans 20+ ppg scorer Eric Gordon as a special NBA guest coach.
Local challengers from each city on the tour will be given the opportunity to compete against the Ball Up All-Stars, and the tour’s winner will earn a spot on the Ball Up roster and a professional contract worth $100,000.
The local team will face off against the Ball Up All-Stars, including streetball legends The Professor, Bone Collector, AO, Sik Wit It, and Air Up There, to name a few.
Check out what The Professor had to say about his career and why you should come out and see him with Ball Up.
The story is that you and your brother went to watch the And1 Mixtape Tour as spectators. You tried out on a whim, impressed everyone, and ended up making the team. Is that true?
“Yeah, true story. We would’ve been fully content just watching the game. I got there early and saw that there was an open run going on and that there was a chance, I hopped in as soon as I could and showed them what I could do. I got the crowd excited on a few different plays during the run. And next thing I know, I’m selected to play against the And1 Mixtape Tour team. I got the crowd excited again a few times in that game and then that night, they asked me to go on tour with them, and I was just shocked.”
So you wake up one day, you’ve got plans later that day to go with your brother to watch a basketball game. You go to the game and find yourself in a tryout, you do well, and by the time you go to bed, you are on tour with And1?
“Yep! That’s exactly what happened.”
What a day!
“That was definitely a good day.”
The And 1 Mixtape Tour was 12 years ago. Does it feel like like that was a dream? What has it been like?
“The whole experience was a blessing. Got to travel the world, got to call basketball my job thanks to the company giving me my first contract in 2003. So I just feel really blessed to be in that position and Ball Up wanted to start this movement up again.”
Where you more nervous during the tryout when you played against the And1 team the first time, or in your first game officially on the team?
“That’s a good question. I’d say first game on the team, I think. I remember I didn’t do anything (laughing). My first game on the team I hit a three pointer. I didn’t get any moves off and I was just kind of in the corner the whole time. The reason being, I was playing a different, up-tempo style of basketball against guys in their prime. Me, I was 19-years-old and had one year of JUCO. SO we went to Paris, and there was way more people there than in any of the US games. And I just didn’t know that style of basketball. We had to entertain the crowd, play high level basketball, and come away with the ‘W.’ The speed is way different than a regular basketball game, it’s not conventional basketball. So I was definitely more nervous in my first game, and didn’t really have the game I wanted to (laughing).
“I was definitely nervous in that first game playing against And1. It was a lot bigger platform than I was used to playing on. I played at a Junior College in my hometown and we were lucky to have maybe 100 people in the stands. Playing against somebody who could get a move off on me at any time in Memorial Coliseum was nerve-racking.”
Did doubt ever creep in?
“Yes, there were a couple times in the first couple years where it did. Maybe I got worked by a veteran, or turned the ball over a few times. I was asking myself, ‘Where do I fit in?’ I remember a couple times thinking, ‘Man I hope this is for me – I skipped out on college for this.’ But I just kept working and never stopped having confidence. There may have been doubt, but I never lost confidence.”
“I’d say the one that works! If I can get a guy to trip, turn around and look the other way, stumble backwards, or fall down, those are all my favorite moves.”
How did the “Spider-Man Basketball” videos on YouTube come about?
“A friend of mine, Robert Monroe, we were trying to decide with my brand what I could do to go viral. My videos were getting good traffic on YouTube, but we really wanted to blow it up. So, he’s really into to comic book culture and we tried to think of a cool way to blend comic culture with basketball culture. We were looking at viral videos online and he said, “You know what would be funny? If you wore a superhero mask and played people one on one.” We graduated to the idea of Spider-Man because that outfit covers the whole body. The video got 14 million views in the first week and its just grown from there.”
Are you ready to show these Omaha guys what the deal is?
“I am! I’ve been there once and am glad to come back. I love going to cities that aren’t necessarily huge markets, because I’m from a small town – I’m from Kaiser, Oregon. In the smaller areas people tend to get a little bit more excited, so I’m pumped to check out Omaha.”
Check out Ball Up “Search for The Next” this Saturday, June 27th in Omaha, Nebraska, and challenge The Professor.
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