New First Baptist Christian School coach has several tricks up his sleeve

STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO

Making eye-popping court shots is a specialty of new First Baptist Christian School coach Corey Burnette such as this one when he scored a basketball while whipping the ball under his right leg. Courtesy photo

Making eye-popping court shots is a specialty of new First Baptist Christian School coach Corey Burnette such as this one when he scored a basketball while whipping the ball under his right leg. Courtesy photo

MARBLE FALLS — Don’t be surprised to see new First Baptist Christian School basketball coach Corey Burnette perform a few trick shots during his clinic Friday, June 30.

After all, Burnette was able to make a living out of putting the ball in the hoop in ways others can only dream.

The clinic for grades kindergarten through eighth costs $25 a student and is 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the First Baptist Church gym, 901 La Ventana Drive in Marble Falls. Burnette, who will begin his first coaching job at the Christian school when the 2017-18 school year begins, will teach ball handling, dribbling, footwork, shooting, defense, and passing. Students will be split into groups and stations, and snacks will be provided. Brunette will be assisted during the clinic by ex-teammate Dante Woods, a former national slam dunk champion.

Working with children is nothing new for the 20-year-old Burnette. When he played for the Harlem Dreams and the Court Kingz, the players emphasized to their young spectators to stay away from drugs and other harmful activities. The two teams put on inspirational events, exhibition games, and shows.

“I really wanted to be a part of something great and have a positive influence and show them all dreams are possible,” he said. “Basketball is my passion. It’s something I’ll be doing for the rest of my life.”

At the age of 6, Burnette, a Brunson native who moved to Beaumont as a high school sophomore, started out on a his first basketball court, which was made of dirt. He dribbled for hours and even slept with his basketball.

As he got older, he grew confident enough to try self-taught tricks, juggling and dribbling multiple basketballs. He got good enough that he could eat while spinning a basketball on his finger as well as spinning several basketballs on several fingers and hitting court-length shots.

As he got older, the 2015 West Brook High School graduate began posting his shots on social media. Those videos made their way to Harold “Lefty” Williams, a former Harlem Globetrotter, who started the Dreams squad in 2014.

The two spoke by phone, then Burnette flew to Massachusetts for a tryout in the summer of 2016. That flight was the first one of his life.

After making the Dreams, Burnette traveled with them when their season began in September.

They went to places very similar in size to Burnet and Marble Falls.

When unforeseen circumstances emerged with the squad, Burnette left the team, but the experience led to a tryout and then signing with the Court Kingz, a Christian organization that specializes in street basketball and travels the world. Burnette beat out 100 other players.

“We’d go to different schools overseas and tell them about Christianity,” he said. “They knew I could do all the cool stuff. They wanted to see if I could play basketball. The Court Kingz played real basketball. The Dreams did juggling tricks and were having fun.”

What makes the Court Kingz unique is organizers set up games between its members and that city’s finest athletes. So each game, the Court Kingz players were essentially trying to keep their jobs, Burnette said.

“They try to embarrass you. They try to take your spot,” he said. “They’re playing people who played Division I basketball.”

Brunette settled in Burnet in December 2016 and began developing a career as a motivational speaker, touring schools and presenting programs to other organizations that worked with youth. With his athletic experience and background, he always knew he wanted to coach basketball, which seemed impossible without a college degree. Burnette’s landlord, however, encouraged him to check out First Baptist Christian School in Marble Falls.

He did.

The Christian school tapped him earlier in June to be the school’s new sports coach. Burnette, who still tours with the Court Kingz, said the coaching job is a great opportunity and a chance to teach younger athletes the skills and to enjoy the sport.

But don’t think he’s traded in his trick shots for a whistle. He still heads out on the court to keep his skills intact.

“The organized sport itself, I enjoyed playing,” he said. “The entertainment side, I fell in love with. Every time I got out there, I showcased my talent on a high level. It’s different every single time.”

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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