Driving by on I-35, you’d never know one of basketball’s newest technological revolutions is about to be launched from a former warehouse on the frontage road in Merriam.
But in a space where windows once were stored, Bruce Ianni and his colleagues at ShotTracker have built a full-size basket court to refine a product that’s so promising it has the financial backing of former NBA star Earvin “Magic” Johnson and former NBA commissioner David Stern.
Sensors placed in special Spaulding basketballs, players’ shoes and the ceiling of the court pick up all the motion occurring to a trillionth of a second and capture it on computer screens. The new product is called ShotTracker Team.
It allows players and coaches to obtain analytics for every movement; dribbling, passing, shots taken and made or shots missed–even the trajectory of the ball down to the centimeter.
It can follow up to 18 players and six hoops at a time and will be available to all levels of the game, from high school to the pros.
“ShotTracker is to gymnasiums as wifi is to coffee shops,” said Ianni, CEO and co-founder of ShotTracker. “For the first time ever, a tremendous amount of content is unleashed for all the stats players create in practice and during games.”
It started with a simple father-son pickup game three years ago.
“I was shooting hoops with my then 10 year-old son and he wanted to get better,” Ianni said. “I said you can’t improve what you don’t measure. That was the genesis of creating a ‘Fitbit’ for basketball.”
Ianni contacted a friend, Davyeon Ross, and together they brainstormed a new concept that allows basketball players and more importantly, their coaches, to track every aspect of their game electronically.
Ross, a native of Trinidad and former basketball player at Benedictine College in Atchison, recognized the potential for a huge market. He’s the co-founder and chief operating officer of ShotTracker.
They enlisted Clint Kahler to be the firm’s chief technology officer and “resident genius” to design the system. Last January, they introduced their product at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Besides winning Magic Johnson and Stern as investors, the new product has several top-level college coaches endorsing ShotTracer, including KU Coach Bill Self.
Another version of ShotTracker geared toward individuals has been a hit as well. The firm has hosted Virtual Basketball Camps the past two summers with Klay Thompson of the NBA Warriors that combine Thompson’s feedback with the personal analytics of ShotTracker.
The ShotTracker Team game plan calls for the company to launch during March Madness NCAA championship tournament next spring.
Until then, the 15 full-time employees and 10 contract employees continue to refine the product in the gym they built in their Merriam warehouse at 7220 W. Frontage Rd. referred to as their “shooting lab.”
Ianni said he’s particularly excited that ShotTracker Team will be available universally.
“We have pre-orders from hundreds of teams at all levels,” he said. “It provides elite-level analytics to every level of the game.”