WOYG looking to show off its game at TBT


In 2005, Dre Baldwin was seeking a professional career in basketball. The odds were stacked against him, as no one from Penn State-Altoona, a Division III school, had ever gone on to play pro ball.

Following graduation, Baldwin, a Philadelphia native, went down to Orlando for an exposure camp for aspiring pro players. He was able to showcase his athleticism and his ability to score in the open floor. That performance would launch him on an overseas career with stops in Germany, Montenegro and Lithuania. Arguably, the most important thing to come out of that trip to Florida, though, was his highlight tape.

“At that time, that film was like gold to me,” said Baldwin, the GM and shooting guard for WOYG. “It was actually on VHS. Not a DVD, but a VHS tape. I said, ‘I’m not going to be able to preserve this over the next 50 years’. When I’m 75 and I’m telling my grandkids I used to be good at basketball they’re just gonna roll their eyes at me unless I have some proof.

“I took it to an audio visual store. The VHS transferred to a CD and I took the CD and put it into my computer, which was a desktop computer, and I put it on this new website that hosted videos called YouTube."

That 1:51 minute video, uploaded on August 12, 2006 (YouTube had launched 18 months earlier) turned into the first of 4,411 videos – and counting – for Baldwin, who has become an online basketball guru, posting daily videos from drills to tips to answering subscribers questions.

“In 2009, I decided, ‘OK, let me see if I can do this every single day’. I thought I had about 10 days worth of ideas. It’s been 2,000 days since then and I’m still going every single day on YouTube."

Last summer, Baldwin had plans of adding several TBT clips to his online collection. However, his team did not qualify and did not receive one of the at-large bids. Due to traveling issues and several players backing out at the last minute, Baldwin had to focus scrambling to find replacements while putting the fan votes on the backburner.

“What I didn’t want to do was to ask my fans to vote us and then it be a waste of time because we didn’t get in,” he added.

WOYG is off to a good start through the first five weeks of registration in 2015, already eligible with seven players and currently ranked in the top 5 of the jam-packed Northeast Region (Philadelphia). Besides the $1,000,000 prize and the chance to appear on ESPN and besides the homecoming for the Miami transplant, qualifying for TBT is important to Baldwin for another reason.

“When TBT first dropped last year, I looked at the idea and said, ‘Wow. They’re going to have a basketball tournament that is sort of driven by the online space … it’s driven by social media,” Baldwin said. “When you take the two phrases: basketball player and social media, you can’t have those two without mentioning Dre Baldwin.

“So if there’s going to be a basketball game that’s driven by social media and I’m still physically able to play, I’m going to be involved in it.”

His team will play under the acronym W.O.Y.G., which – you guessed it – comes from his YouTube fame.

“Every day I was getting asked, ‘Can you give me tips on this? Tips on that?’ and I finally told these kids, ‘Listen, the reason why you aren’t getting the improvement that you want, the reason why you don’t have the game that you want, [the reason why] you’re getting cut from the basketball team or sitting at the end of the bench is that instead of going out there to work or practice...you’re playing Xbox, you’re watching TV, you’re on YouTube to watch me instead of putting in the work.

“What you need to do is work on your game."

Baldwin has either played with or against everyone on his roster, a list of players he has identified as blue-collar guys, ones who will be willing to share the ball in order to eventually share the $1,000,000 prize. Although eligible with more than 100 votes and seven players on the roster, Baldwin has yet to put the finishing touches on WOYG.

"I'm constantly working the phone lines," Baldwin added. "It's like really being a GM."

“After seeing the way The Basketball Tournament was played last year, I knew that picking up friends isn’t going to get the job done. I’m gonna need to pick up guys who can get the job done, even if I know them or not. I'm picking players who will put us in the best position to win $1,000,000.”