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On the corner of 155th and Frederick Douglas Boulevard in Harlem lies Rucker Park. By appearances, the concrete pavement, anchored on one side by its run down slab bleachers, is no different than any other basketball court in the city, but this is the place where nicknames are indelibly branded, and legends are born.
On September 1, 2006, the top 24 high school basketball players in the nation stepped out on this court, that once saw the likes of Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Dr. J to compete in the first annual Elite 24 all-star game. GUNNIN FOR THAT #1 SPOT follows eight of these players as they prepare to showcase their skills at the most legendary playground in the world.
Directed by Adam Yauch (MCA of the Beastie Boys and director of Awesome; I F***ing Shot That!"), the documentary trails these players on the fast track to the NBA, as they are being groomed to be in the spotlight of a multi-million dollar game. Combining Yauchs unique directing style with raw hip hop music, GUNNIN’ highlights these soon to be NBA All Stars.
Yauchs interest in film and photography began while growing up in Brooklyn, NY. He started out with photography in elementary school by setting up a black and white dark room in his home, with some old dark room equipment his cousin was throwing away. By high school he was experimenting with shooting and editing super 8. He made his first film at age 16, which was projected during shows behind his fledgling band, Beastie Boys.
Yauch has directed the majority of the band’s videos including Shadrach (1989, one of Rolling Stone’s Top 100 Videos of All Time), So What’cha Want (1992), Intergalactic (1998, winner of The Billboard Music Award’s best clip in 1998, The European Music Awards Best Video in 1998 and MTV’s Best Hip Hop Video in 1999) and Ch-Ch-Check it Out (2004). The Beastie Boys were honored with 1998’s Video Vanguard award, MTV’s highest honor.
He put together the Beastie Boys Video Anthology DVD, released by the Criterion Collection, the first of its kind to ever really take advantage of the breadth of the DVD format.
Yauch directed AWESOME; I FUCKIN SHOT THAT! a documentary feature film of a concert shot by audience members which premiered at Sundance 2006 and was distributed by THINKFilm.
St. Mary’s High School, Phoenix, AZ
Current Stats: UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
Height: 6 ft 3 in
Weight: 193 pounds
In High School, Bayless averaged 37.9 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.4 assists and 3.2 steals per game to earn Big Schools Player of the Year honors from The Arizona Republic as well as the Republics All-Arizona Team selection four consecutive years (2004-2007) . He might be listed as a point guard, but he’s also a dominant scorer. The lightning-quick Bayless brings the ball up the court and usually puts it in the basket as well. After a standout freshman year, Jerryd declared his eligibility for the 2008 NBA Draft and is expected to be a lottery pick.
Notre Dame Preparatory School, Fitchburg, MA
Current Stats: KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY
Height: 6 ft 9 in
Weight: 235 pounds
With his filthy combination of size and athleticism, Beasley is arguably the most versatile player in the country. Best known for his ability to take it to the rack for breathtaking dunks, Beasleys dangerous post game and picturesque left-handed jumper make him a threat to score every time he has the ball. He was named first-team All-American by the Associated Press and is expected to be the #1 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.
American Christian High School, Chester, PA
Current Stats: AMERICAN CHRISTIAN HIGH SCHOOL, CHESTER, PA
Height: 6 ft 5 in
Weight: 205 pounds
Averaging in high school 25.4 points, 8.0 rebounds and 8.0 assists, this versatile guard is one of the smoothest players in the country. Even when hes dominating games with coast-to-coast drives and beautiful no-look passes, hes barely breaking a sweat. Evans has an extraordinarily quick first step and can get to the basket any time he wants to. Evans always finds the open man and is a solid rebounder for a guard. Tyreke was named the MVP of the 2008 McDonalds All American Game. He has declared his allegiance to the University of Memphis for the Fall of 2008.
Towson Catholic High School, Baltimore, MD
Current Stats: SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY
Height: 6 ft 11 in
Weight: 226 pounds
Greene is an excellent 3-point shooter, who can force big men onto the perimeter to guard him. Once there, Greene is in control. He can fire away with near-automatic precision from behind the arc or he can use his quickness to get to the rim. He is also an outstanding rebounder and shot-blocker. Greene is expected to be a lottery pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.
Oak Hill Academy, Mouth Of Wilson, VA
Current Stats: OAK HILL ACADEMY, MOUTH OF WILSON, VA
Height: 6 ft 2 in
Weight: 165 pounds
Jennings averaged 19 points per game his sophomore year for Dominguez High School in Compton, Calif. and led his team to the Southern Section Division IIAA semifinals. Jennings, who transferred to Oak Hill for his junior season, is one of the nations best point guards, regardless of class. Hes exciting to watch in the open floor with his speed, tremendous vision and perfect alley-oop lobs to teammates. His nasty handle allows him to get into the lane against most defenders, who also have to respect his 3-point range. His senior year, Brandon was named the Naismith High School Player of the Year. Jennings has committed to University of Arizona for the Fall.
Lake Oswego High School, Lake Oswego, OR
Current Stats: UCLA
Height: 6 ft 10 in
Weight: 260 pounds
Love averaged 17.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per game his freshman year at UCLA. He dominates the competition with an incredible post game, great footwork and old-school fundamentals. His post up is excellent and allows him to seal off his defender for an easy bucket or a trip to the charity stripe. Defenders must also respect Loves shooting range, which extends to 3-point land. Kevin was named AP first-team All American and is expected to be amongst the top ten picks in the 2008 NBA Draft.
Abraham Lincoln High School, Brooklyn, NY
Current Stats: ABRAHAM LINCOLN HIGH SCHOOL, BROOKLYN, NY
Height: 6 ft 5 in
Weight: 200 pounds
Stephenson might only be a finishing up his junior year, but hes already considered New Yorks next great guard. Lance recently lead Lincoln to their third straight PSAL NYC title, the first time in NYC history. He is a scorer with great range on his jumper and the ability to take it to the hole, but he also has the vision, ball-handling skills and passing ability to one day become a big point guard. Lance will be a high school senior in the Fall.
South Medford High School, Medford, Oregon
Current Stats: DUKE UNIVERSITY
Height: 6 ft 8 in
Weight: 220 pounds
Singler is a versatile wingman who can shoot from the outside, post up smaller players on the block and is one of the top passers in his class. He is also an aggressive rebounder and a solid defender. Singler will return to Duke for the 2008-9 season, his sophomore year.
TIME OUT NEW YORK
5 star review
Gunnin’ for That #1 Spot
Dir. Adam Yauch. 2008. PG-13. 97mins. Documentary.
Ask any studio exec, and they’ll tell you that summer action heroes require gadgets and special effects. Will Gunnin’ for That #1 Spot—which looks like it was made for a buck fitty—toss that conventional wisdom in the trash? Hopefully so, and from the three-point line. The two-dozen high-school basketballers assembled in this stupefyingly enjoyable doc are the future Iron Men of the NBA. (Many are already college stars.) Shot from below, they float majestically in slo-mo, shatter backboards and inspire fierce recruitment efforts from sneaker companies and schools. On a summer day in 2006, the boys are shipped in from Compton, Baltimore, even Whiteboy, Oregon, to play an outdoor game in Harlem. Things will never be this innocent again.
On hand to shoot this “Elite 24” showdown was Adam Yauch, better known as a Beastie Boy. It may be time to start taking Yauch seriously as a filmmaker and not just the “Body Movin’” guy. In merely two features (this and 2006’s anti-auteurist Awesome; I Fuckin’ Shot That!) he seems to grasp documentary concepts that elude many pros. His five-boroughs pride results in a strong sense of place, with testimonials about Harlem’s historic Rucker Park given the same weight as the gamesmanship. Both movies are extremely social and communal, suggesting the polyglot spirit that is the city’s most beautiful contribution to the world. And Yauch’s ear for music and rhythm is slammin’; this is easily the year’s best soundtrack, with room for M.I.A. and the Staple Singers alike. As a sports film, it doesn’t dig as deep as Hoop Dreams, but Gunnin’will surely prove as inspiring. —Joshua Rothkopf
Posted onJune 24, 2008 at 5:20 PM