Baltimore's Andre Poole has one thing on his mind -- winning MTV's Who's Got Game (Sundays at 10:30 p.m.). With hosts NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson and playground legend "Pee-Wee" Kirkland, the show is made up of 12 cast mates who have to showcase their streetball skills to gain the respect of their peers, and to win $100,000.
Poole, whose streetball name is "Silk," went to an open tryout and was selected from the thousands who tried out based on their personality, skills and charisma.
Poole, 26, played basketball for Patterson High School ifrom 1991 to 1995 and later played at the Essex campus of the Community College of Baltimore County. Poole prides himself on being able to play smart basketball, while still giving an entertaining show for the fans. His ability to play both guard positions makes him a threat on the court.
If he isn't making his defender dizzy with his shake-and-bake crossover dribble, throwing a no-look pass or just using his quickness to blow by, then Silk will give his defender a headfake and pull up for a jump shot. And he definitely has a shooter's touch.
The level of competition is tough, and the stakes are high. Each episode, two captains choose their teams and play a pick-up game to 15 points. It can get physical out there because street basketball has no rules, and anything goes.
In each game, players' street credibility is on the line, as is a $250 prize. The players on the losing team compete in a black-top battle. The person who finishes last is put in the draft pool and has to sit out a couple of games.
Unfortunately, Silk's team lost the first game, and he ended up in the draft pool. But rest assured, he will be well-rested and ready to get back on the court as soon as he can.
How old were you when you started playing basketball?
I started when I was pretty young, probably around 8 or 9.
Which basketball players do you feel like influenced you the most growing up?
Coming up I was a big Magic Johnson fan, of course, but who wasn't? I was a big Kevin Johnson fan, too.
How would you describe your game to someone who has never seen you play before?
I am just a guy out there who can play both games. ... You know, it's a streetball game, and it's an organized game as well. So I can mix it up with ball-handling, athleticism, quickness, and I can dish the ball -- everything. I'm just a complete player, and somebody that's definitely fun to watch.
Was participating in the MTV reality show a fun experience? Did you learn anything from it?
Yeah, the experience was out of this world. ... Just being around 11 or 12 other people that you never seen before and living in a house together, it definitely shows that there is a lot of talent out here. It was great making new friends. You know, a lot of those guys I still keep in contact with.
Did you find that being out there on the court it is hard to keep your ego in check? Do they get in the way?
I wouldn't necessarily say that. It really didn't come down to egos per se, because if you watched the show you could obviously see that I couldn't be checked by the person who was guarding me. So it basically came down to fouls and just playing hard out there, and egos and things like that didn't really play a part as far as people on my team performing at their best level. It came down to people fouling, and I wouldn't say dirty play. ... You have to go out there with some level of confidence thinking that you are the best player out there.