All business on, off the court: Former East Washington star and NBA player Rodney Stuckey satisfies basketball with his own Shoot 360 setup | Eastern Washington University
Rodney Stuckey learned a few lessons during his 10 years in the National Basketball Association, and before that as an All-American at Eastern Washington University.
Among them, he learned that disruption was just a challenge that could be overcome as he launched his new business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Just months after fulfilling a dream by opening the Shoot 360 basketball practice facility in Kirkland, Wasington, his post-playing career plan was suddenly shot down in 2020. The pandemic shut down, stalling the momentum started with 500 individual memberships, college and high school team appearances, the presence of former pros like him, and media exposure.
It finally got back to normal this year, but it was a tough two years to bear.
“When we first opened we were smitten like crazy, and soon we were over 500 members,” he says. “But the pandemic hit and we had to wait and be patient. Many members stayed with us, and once we reopened, we were right back where we left off.
Some of his past disruptions include the year he had to take off to get his studies in order before he could play at EWU, a delay in his NBA regular season debut, and the injury and hiatus that finally ended his 10-year professional career.
On June 28, 2007, Stuckey was taken 15th overall in the 2007 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons, then averaged 16.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in the pre- season. But a hand injury in the final preseason game of his rookie season delayed his official NBA departure by two months.
“Even though I broke my hand, they had a schedule for me,” Stuckey said of the Pistons organization. “Once my hand was fine after surgery, I trained and did everything I could with my left hand, legs and core. But with COVID, that was a different story.
This injury proved to be a major blow in his career and he went on to earn second-team All-Rookie honors in the 2007-08 campaign. He returned to the Eastern campus in 2009 to have his jersey officially retired, joining only Ron Cox currently with that honor. In 2014, the Big Sky Conference honored him as No. 13 on the league’s Top 50 Male Athletes list to commemorate his 50th birthday.
Over a 10-year career in the National Basketball Association, Stuckey averaged 12.8 points and played in 612 total regular season games (302 starts) in seven years with the Pistons and three with the Indiana Pacers. . However, a foot injury sidelined him for much of the 2015-16 season, then the following year he was hampered by a knee injury and injuries to both hamstrings. He was eventually waived by the Pacers on March 29, 2017.
He still thought he could regain his health and play in the NBA again, but then began coaching his alma mater, Kentwood, for former teammate Blake Solomon. His post-NBA dreams of building a gym began to develop simultaneously around this time, especially after suffering a ruptured patellar tendon two years ago.
“As you get older, you don’t want to hit like you do in basketball anymore,” he explains. “Right now I just want to do cardio and stay in shape.”
Spending his time teaching players basketball and less playing the game has also allowed him to spend more time with his wife, Heidi, and their children. He also coaches “Team Stuck”, an elite AAU traveling squad for high school girls.
It was while in Indiana with the Pacers that Stuckey first heard about Shoot 360. Fred Jones, a friend and former player from Oregon, opened a Shoot 360 facility in Indianapolis and invited Stuckey to visit.
“I never took the time to check it out while I was playing, but Shoot 360 stuck in my head,” Stuckey says. “When I was retired and I met my financial adviser, I talked to him about it and we did some research on his computer. He was like, ‘wow, that’s crazy. There’s nothing here like this, and it would be so nice to bring one here.”
They then reached out to Shoot 360 founder Craig Moody and struck up the conversation. The company is based in Vancouver, Washington, and its first two locations were in Beaverton, Oregon and Vancouver.
Stuckey then flew to Los Angeles to see a Shoot 360 installation in action, which was newer and more technologically advanced than the two in the Portland area.
“I was just in awe – it was amazing,” he said. “I knew I had to bring one to Washington. After that, it was all about figuring out the location, designing it, and mapping everything out. »
Eventually Kirkland was chosen as the site and they opened in December 2019. But when the basketball season ended, they were closed.
“You invest so much money and time in your business, then all of a sudden you have to shut down,” he added. “But there are still bills you are supposed to pay. Everyone is hurt in this situation. I wish everything was different, that was the hardest thing.
Now that they’re open again, he wants to get the momentum back and show his setup to anyone with a bit of a basketball interest. He knows the clientele well and knows that the technological aspects will hook them. His gym currently has a waiting list for new members, so it’s definitely growing.
“Technology gives players instant feedback on what they’re doing,” he explains. “It’s all done through an app once you become a member, and you can check your progress. It’s a fun way to learn basketball – it’s super interactive and a fun way to bring basketball -ball in the Northwest.
The majority of its members are elementary and middle school students, and Shoot 360 is one step ahead of video games. It adds a physical component to achievement scoring and level passing goals.
Former EWU head coach Ray Giacoletti, who originally helped bring Stuckey to Cheney, recognizes the importance of having community gyms like the one Stuckey opened.
“When I was growing up, there were facilities everywhere, but they were more like gymnasiums at the YMCA or the Boys and Girls Club. There aren’t enough places for children to go to play anymore.
“So the more facilities there are that can get kids learning the fundamentals at a young age, that’s important,” Giacoletti continued. “And in Rodney’s case, they have someone to look up to who is from that community and has played at a high level in college and in the NBA. It gives the kids hope and inspiration to be the best possible player.
Stuckey helped open the state-of-the-art facility in December 2019, but it closed on March 16, 2020. It reopened, but then closed again from November 17 to February 1, 2021.
It includes a full-size field and eight individual shooting and player development stations enhanced with technological features.
“Everything went well and is back up and running,” he says, while acknowledging that they are not out of the woods yet. “Everything is smoother now.”
The same type of facility opened in Spokane under another former NBA player, former Gonzaga star Dan Dickau. The Spokane facility was the 18th opened by Shoot 360, which has locations in 13 states and is known for its innovative use of video-based technology.
“I had a few conversations with him about my experiences with Shoot 360,” Stuckey said of his association with Dickau. “It’s a cool concept.”
After leading Kentwood High School near Seattle to a state championship in 2004, Stuckey was declared an NCAA unqualified out of high school due to a lack of academic focus early in his high school career. The previous summer, the Eastern Washington coaching staff developed a relationship with Stuckey while he was playing AAU basketball for Seattle Rotary.
Eventually, since EWU was able to pull non-qualifiers out of high school, Stuckey chose EWU over playing junior college immediately.
“We had to follow the NCAA rules, but it struck a chord when Rodney’s situation arose that summer,” said Giacoletti, who is now an assistant at Saint Louis University. “We tried to help him as best we could throughout the process. There were bumps in the road, but ultimately the plan worked.
“We got to see him play during his outstanding senior season because he had already signed with us, but that didn’t necessarily mean anything,” added Giacoletti, who led EWU to the NCAA Tournament in 2004 and then left. to become a head coach. in Utah. “Before I left, I saw every top college in the country recruit him. It gave him a solution to play right away, but in the end, the plan to come to the East worked.
So instead of heading to Washington or Gonzaga, Stuckey spent a year in Cheney, Washington at his own expense without even being able to train with the team.
Those dimes Stuckey spent, over time, turned into millions of dollars as he continued to pursue his basketball dreams playing in Spokane and at home in Seattle at any gym he could. find a match. At this point in his life, he was patient and indifferent.
“It was easier for me because I could still be with the team, even if I couldn’t train,” he said. “I was still looking for ways to play basketball and I was training, and I had friends at school. I wasn’t afraid not to play because I knew my time was coming.
Stuckey not only earned good enough grades at EWU to play for the Eagles in the 2005-06 season, but he would eventually become a 3.34 student at EWU and earn Academic All-America honors for have excelled both on the field and in the classroom. He twice earned an All-America honorable mention for his basketball acumen during a two-year career that saw him score 1,438 points in 59 career games.
Stuckey burst onto the scene in the 2005-06 season to win national Rookie of the Year honors and was the Big Sky Conference MVP and Rookie of the Year. He scored 20 points and had seven rebounds as a freshman against Gonzaga, then had 18 points and four assists against the Bulldogs a year later.
Stuckey ranked in the top eight in NCAA Division I in points scored in each of his two seasons (24.2 to rank eighth in 2005-06 and 24.6 to rank seventh in 2006-07 ). He broke 10 school records and finished fourth at EWU in career scoring despite only playing 59 career games.
He had the option of transferring to a bigger school, but Stuckey declared himself for the 2007 NBA Draft without hiring an agent. However, he quickly climbed the draft boards and easily became EWU’s first draft pick in school history and second-highest in league history.
“Rodney is a great achievement and a great example for others,” added Giacoletti, whose other training stops have included as an assistant to Gonzaga and as a head coach to Drake. “He sat down, made an immediate impact, and then was a first-round pick in the NBA draft after his sophomore year. It couldn’t have gone better for him. »