Sharp-eyed viewers may have spotted two familiar faces leading the basketball tryout in a new Reebok television ad: Dunbar High School's Pete Pompey and Paul Holmes.
The nationally recognized coach and his assistant play, not surprisingly, a coach and his assistant in the 30-second athletic shoe commercial, which debuted Friday and is being used during the Olympic broadcasts.
"I'm not going to give up my day job," joked Pompey, who led Baltimore's Dunbar Poets to a 29-0 season and top national rankings last year. Pompey was named national high school basketball coach of the year by USA Today last year.
In the black-and-white ad, Pompey, with Holmes by his side, is addressing a high school gym full of players trying out for the basketball team. Fragments of dialogue reveal the coach telling the players that only 12 of the 28 of them can make the team.
A narrator then says, "A coach can put you on the team. Teammates can make you hustle. A scout can get you a scholarship. The right school can get you on the tube. But only the love can make you a player. You got the love?"
Pompey, Holmes and Dunbar are not identified in the commercial, and the gym is actually in New Jersey. The players are actors who Pompey had to spend a few days coaching for their parts. The commercial was shot in June.
The company initially wanted to use actual Dunbar athletes and the name of the school but dropped those plans to avoid infringing on NCAA rules about college-bound players making money, said Katie Dunn, director of advertising/sports for Reebok.
Even without identifying them, the coaches brought an authenticity to the spot that an actor may have lacked, she said. The coaches put the actor/players through actual drills and delivered their usual tryout speech unscripted and unrehearsed, she said.
"We were going for complete authenticity, the intensity of a high school tryout," she said. "They were great."
Pompey and Holmes were paid for their efforts, but Pompey declined to say how much. David Burns, with Burns Sports Celebrity Services in Chicago, said a role like Pompey's generally pays between $5,000 and $10,000, depending upon how many times the ad airs.
Pompey said a couple of other projects are being discussed, but he has no plans to move to Hollywood.
"I couldn't do this for a living: standing around, shooting, standing around again," Pompey said.
Another Baltimorean, Dunbar grad and Boston Celtics player Reggie Lewis, appears in a companion ad that features 10 NBA players practicing.