Little dribbler makes it big

Little dribbler makes it big

Corey Burnette began playing basketball at the age of 7. His mother signed him up for Little Dribblers, and though he didn’t immediately take to the sport, he eventually carried his basketball with him everywhere he went.

At 21, the West Brook graduate travels the world eight months out of the year playing professionally with the Flight Squad — a premier high-level exhibition basketball team consisting of former professional athletes.

“I specialize in a lot of ball handling and spinning basketball tricks,” said Burnette. “I can even dunk, though I am only 6 foot flat.”

It wasn’t all fun and games in the beginning. After playing basketball as a freshman at West Sabine High School, the family moved back to Beaumont and Burnette attended West Brook and played for the Sophomore team. He then started skipping school, not focusing and never played school ball again.

After graduating, Burnette was lost. He began working odd jobs and taking some online college courses, and even thought of joining the police academy, but knew deep in his heart that what he was really good at was basketball.

“I posted a video on Instagram of me doing some tricks, and overnight, it went viral,” said Burnette. “It was buzzing. I got hundreds of comments.”

Once in particular was from Harold “Lefty” Williams, a former member of the

Harlem Globetrotters that has an exhibition team called Harlem Dream.

“Lefty called me the next day and I went out to Florida to try out for the team,” said Burnette. “I signed a contract, but just sat at home.”

While waiting for the next step with the Harlem Dream, he began to create the Corey Burnette brand of basketball. Before that could take off, he was faced with the disappointment of not playing with the Harlem Dream despite signing a contract.

“I got really depressed,” he said. “This was something I wanted to do my whole life.”

After three months of slumming around, Burnette did what he did best — post more basketball tricks on his Instagram, which is @coreyclassic.

That led to another opportunity, this time with a reputable and popular group, Court Kingz, which featured popular players “The Professor” and “Hot Sauce.”

Burnette made an impression and went overseas to play with them in Ecuador.

“It was a dream come true,” he said. “I got to meet The Professor, and it put my mind on a new level.”

That opportunity led Burnette to sign a full time contract with the Flight Squad in March.

“My work ethic and drive for success started with basketball,” said Burnette. “After high school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I was so driven to be successful, but I had no options. Every professional entertainment basketball team I called rejected me. I never gave up; I continued dreaming and didn’t let failure stop me.”

Burnette has several messages to convey.

“Surround yourself with positive people that will help you follow your dream,” he said. “Continue to read and educate yourself to reach your full potential. We need change, and that can only happen if we are willing to change ourselves.”

 

Chad Cooper is the Entertainment Editor for the Southeast Texas Entertainment Guide. Email cooper [at] theexaminer [dot] com

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