Player is a slam dunk

Baltimore native shows off his skills on And1 street ball tour

August 10, 2006|By MARC SHAPIRO | MARC SHAPIRO,SUN REPORTER

Andre "Silk" Poole knows that success does not come without sacrifice.

While he was captain of the Community College of Baltimore County, Essex campus basketball team, Division 1 schools were courting him. Georgetown and Xavier universities were his final choices, but when his grandmother fell ill, he decided to stay home to take care of her, he said.

"It was a tough thing, but at the same time, I don't regret it at all," Poole said. "I love her to death." She was on dialysis for 16 years before passing away.

Poole dominated street ball in the city during this time. Last year, he caught the attention of the And1 team, a national tour of professional street ballers. When the tour comes to town, local ballers line up for a shot at challenging the team. Poole played against And players in a few games and was asked to join the team.

"Last summer was like my coming out party," he said. "I went out and just tore the tour apart, and in the off season they asked me to join." The And1 Mixtape Tour comes to the Verizon Center in Washington on Saturday.

Growing up in East Baltimore, Poole hung out at Bocek Park. He started playing basketball while in elementary school, with guys a few years older than he.

"I had to try to find ways to get around those guys and get the ball to the basket," he said.

After years of polishing his skills in street games, Poole went on to play for Patterson High School from 1991 to 1995 and became one of the city's top five scorers. He averaged 23.2 points, 9.7 assists, six rebounds and three steals per game. He also became Patterson's first player to go to the east vs. west city all-star game, where he was named most valuable player, finishing with 32 points and five assists.

As team captain at CCBC Essex, he averaged 19 points and eight assists. His skills landed him in the Amateur Athletic Union, where his coach coined the nickname Silk because of his smooth, effortless ability to score so rapidly.

"Everybody I face on that basketball court I destroy," Poole said. "Nobody can say that they got the best of me."

Poole can be seen dominating the court on the latest And1 DVD, July's And1 Mixtape Volume 9, which features highlights from his appearances on the tour last year. Although the And1 DVDs feature some crazy dunks and outlandish moves, Poole doesn't think the And1 team is this generation's Globetrotters.

"To be honest, it's a total misconception," he said. "These are legitimate guys, and the games are very physical, and it's just street basketball," although, he said, there is an entertainment value. "It's like a bunch of brothers, all of us go back for years."

Lately, when he isn't playing basketball, Poole is focusing on raising his 5-year-old son, who he said is an image of himself.

Poole is also working on a three-volume DVD of highlights from games he's played over the years. He also plans to help start a summer camp for city kids. He said he wants to reach out to kids by teaching them about basketball and drug abuse and prevention, and to help keep them off the streets.

"They're our future right now," he said. "So we gotta do what we can."

The And1 Mixtape Tour hitsVerizon Center, 601 F St. N.W., Washington, on Saturday. D.C. streetballers who want to represent their city against the And1 team can register at 3:30 p.m. and try out at 4 p.m. Game time is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20-$75. Call 410-547-SEAT or go to ticketmaster.com.

marc.shapiro@baltsun.com

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