HYPERLOCAL HOOPS

rick-brandtRick Brandt, of Little Silver, started a two-day basketball clinic featuring local talent. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Rick Brandt and his younger brother, Rob, don’t have dreams of making millions on the basketball court. They don’t think they’ll even play another serious game of basketball in their lives.

They’re simple guys who grew up in Little Silver with a somewhat simple — and unlikely — goal.

“If we can be David Prowns when we get older, that’s what we want,” Rick Brandt, 21, said.

For those of you scratching your heads, one must know David Prown to understand why the Brandt brothers see him, not LeBron James or Mark Sanchez (Rick is a huge Jets fan), as their role model.

Prown, of Red Bank, is immersed in local youth and sports, taking hours out of every day to organize athletic events and cultural outings for kids. The Brandts want to be immersed, too.

“If I can find a way to combine kids, sports and money, that’d be what I want to do,” Rick Brandt said.

He’s getting his start already. Well, minus the money part.

With the help of his brother, Brandt started Jersey Shore Elite Basketball Clinic, a sort of homecoming of local basketball notables to help take some 80 registered kids’ games to the next level.

Brandt is bringing in friends, including Red Bank Regional alum-turned-Duke University standout Casey Peters, Florida Gators starting forward Dan Werner and Keyron Sheard, who’s playing hoops for the University of Tennessee at Chatanooga, to run the show.

The two-day clinic, taking place Saturday and Sunday at RBR, is set to be a blitz of basketball and fun, Brandt said. His cast of homegrown all-stars will work on the fundamentals and skills needed both on and off the court with fourth- through twelfth-graders, with the goal of sending them home more confident not only in their game, but in life.

“I want them to think, ‘If he’s on the Duke basketball team, then I can be on the Duke basketball team,'” Brandt said. “I think it’s a perfect system, when you take the local kids who come back and teach the new generation. It’s a great way for the kids who graduated to come give back.”

Giving back is what Brandt set out to do in this effort. A full-time student and football player at Kean University, intern for the Jets and a substitute teacher, Brandt certainly didn’t have any obligation to follow through with the idea of holding a clinic once he realized how much time it would consume. But he spent hundreds of hours rallying support locally and thousands out of his pocket to get it off the ground.

Between work and school, the effort setting up the clinic rounded out 16-hour days the last couple months, said Brandt, who’s yet to show signs of fatigue beneath his light blue eyes.

Prown, who shook his head and laughed at the notion that Brandt aspires to be like him, said he was amazed by the amount of time and money put into getting the clinic started. He recalled last winter, when Brandt bought a snowblower and earned a few extra bucks clearing out driveways.

“He’s so entrepreneurial. Quite the opposite of me,” Prown said.  “I just think the gift is that he didn’t run away from this, and he really could have.”

But Brandt says he’s got a passion for his home area. He feels like he owes it to kids and parents here to offer a fun weekend that is, essentially, a hyperlocal affair that he envisions becoming an anticipated event in greater Red Bank.

“We live in such a tight-knit community. Parents, they love getting up in the morning and reading the newspaper to see all the stats. They know all the high school teams and the players,” he said. “I feel like it’s a perfect community environment.”

“I want it to be a staple in the community for years to come,” he said, “when the high school players aspire to get a phone call from me asking if they want to be a part of this clinic.”

Yep, he’s sounding a lot like that guy selling windows and doors over on Monmouth Street.

“My brother and I, we feel we’re on a a good track to becoming David Prowns,” Brandt said.

Registration for the clinic is still open, and costs $150. Price includes drinks and food, photos with the clinic staff (and autographs, too), a players’ manual, t-shirt and a grab bag for parents filled with coupons and fliers for local supporting businesses. Registration can be done through the clinic’s brochure, or online here.