These Hoopers Use Social Media To Create Their Own Personal Brands


A decade ago Briana “Bree” Green lived the life only a privileged few are lucky enough to live as a DI varsity athlete at the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP). She had lofty goals and high expectations for herself before suffering multiple ACL injuries, which ultimately affected the rest of her college career. Although she had two ACL surgeries during her four years at UTEP, where she won the Conference USA championship as a senior in 2012, Green worked through her rehabilitation to eventually play professionally in Europe and the United Kingdom. Mexico.

“I saw the movie Love and basketball, and [in it] Monica went to play abroad in Spain, ”says Green with a big smile on his face. “It was one of my favorite movies growing up, and when I was in college I knew I wanted to go abroad. I wanted to travel and experience basketball elsewhere, so the WNBA didn’t never been my main focus.

And indeed, just like Monica in the classic film, Green also ended up having a stint as a professional hooper in Spain before finally accepting a coaching job at the IMG Academy in 2016. Still looking for regaining his confidence after knee injuries, Green regained his identity there while coaching girls in basketball. She quickly started expressing her passion for gambling on social media.

“I had another knee operation and hadn’t been cleared by the doctor yet, so I was fed up,” says Green. “I recorded myself dribbling and it went viral on Facebook. Everyone, for some reason, said I should try for the Globetrotters, but I was like, Uh, I’m too competitive, but whatever.”

Her friends have indeed seen it coming before her. One day, a Harlem Globetrotter recruiter saw the video online and tracked down Green immediately after. She managed to tackle the lingering pain from the knee injury and impressed the staff enough to earn a spot on the Globetrotters roster. After posting a few more viral videos, one of which was dribbling a ball on a treadmill, Green knew she had to give it all, documenting her journey as a globetrotter in a unique way.

“I knew it would be a good time to develop my brand,” says Green. “I wanted to make sure I separated ‘Hoops’, which is my globe-trotting nickname, from Bree… from Brianna. I made sure all the time to focus on my personal brand and try to develop it like that.

And that’s what she did. Green left the Globetrotters after realizing that she could make a lot more money as a content creator instead. Fast forward to 2021 and Green now has 357,000 followers on Instagram, 375,000 more on TikTok and 191,000 subscribers on YouTube. She leveraged the impact of her social media to partner with entities such as Nike, Adidas, Gatorade, AT&T, ESPN + and Space Jam.

“It’s amazing just because I took this risk,” Green said when asked about all the brands she’s worked with since deciding to devote herself full time to media. social. “To make it all go down, it’s pretty dumb, and I try to be different. I try to separate myself. I try to be innovative, to find new ways, and on top of that, d ‘to be a woman who does it.I just try to make myself unique.

The state of North Carolina has consistently produced top-notch hoop talent for decades. From Steph Curry and CP3 to John Wall and Brandon Ingram, The Old North State has rightly earned a reputation as a home for top tier hoops. But now, off the court, two Raleigh influencers are changing the way basketball players engage with social media to create business opportunities.

Marcus Hodges played at Division II Lenoir-Rhyne University and pursued the hoop’s dream of playing overseas in the UK, but quickly realized that the dream was no longer his.

“I went to the British Basketball League in London, and the team I actually recruited [by] ended up folding, ”Hodges said in a Zoom interview from his shoe closet, a closet that holds just about every basketball shoe you can imagine, regardless of sneaker brand. “They didn’t have enough money to form a team, and I took it as a learning experience off the pitch. I ended up coming home and playing a bit semi-pro, and that’s when I started training.

The fact that many football players in England were earning their salaries within a month prompted Hodges to think of other ways to make a living while playing the game he loves. This prompted him to start his Separation team skills development and training enterprise nine years ago.

Availability was really his best ability when he started coaching players. Hodges currently lives in Raleigh and noted how several DI players at the time were looking to train upon their return to town, such as Devonte Graham of the New Orleans Pelicans and Lexie Brown of the Chicago Sky.

“We were all new to [social media] back then, but really how I got there, let’s say no kids show up for my workouts, which means I now have an hour to myself, ”Hodges says. “My girlfriend at the time was there, and Instagram just released 15 second videos. I would ask him to record me doing a crazy layup… hitting ten threes in a row or doing a crossover in a jump shot. I didn’t know at the time that I was marketing myself.

Hodges mocks the early days of uploading videos to Instagram, saying he was previously excited when he got 11 likes. Now, his TikTok videos alone have amassed over 3 million likes and total 312,000 users. While being a popular trainer for young talent can pay the bills, Hodges has earned a lot of extra income through branded partnerships.

“Legends, Manscape, DratKings, Footlocker, Eastbay – these are a lot of companies that I have collaborated with and work with,” says Hodges. “Some companies contact me, give me material and ask me if I can create certain types of videos. Other companies just want me to wear what I like about their brand, so it’s promoted.

Another influencer from North Carolina is also catching the attention of basketball fans on the internet. Milton Chavis’ trip included a stop at the Word of God Christian Academy, where he played alongside quadruple NBA All-Star John Wall. Like his Raleigh brothers Marcus Hodges, Chavis had a respectable college career with stints at Kilgore Community College before ending up at Morehead State University.

A short stint abroad led Chavis to pursue the path of coaching and training, which sparked his desire to explore content creation.

Chavis’ popular “Travel or Not” video series shows him performing a unique set of moves, most of which will never be seen in a real basketball game. The creativity and athleticism displayed in his videos are among the reasons Chavis went from 18,000 to 75,000 Instagram followers in the space of six months. Basketball stars like Gilbert Arenas, Kevin Garnett and DeMar DeRozan even reached out to pay tribute and discuss its contents.

“It’s been crazy, man,” Chavis says, describing the growth of his followers and the opportunities that come with it. “I started in March, researching the rally step rule, the only rule in the NBA. I was just creative and was able to show off the skills that I still have, the athleticism that I still have. My posts have taken on a life of their own. I’ve been on almost every basketball platform besides ESPN and SportsCenter.

Chavis’s content led him to team up with rising streetwear brands, which send him merchandise and pay for promotion. New Balance and Addikt have also formed a relationship with Chavis, while the budding artists pay to have their music played in Chavis’ videos.

The road to social media stardom has hit some roadblocks for these three influencers. Three ACL surgeries for Bree Green and empty gyms for Chavis and Hodges ultimately motivated them to persist, even in the midst of despondency.

“I remember one time I posted that I had 9:00 am workouts at Word of God,” Chavis says. “It was like in 2017. I go to the gym and no one shows up. I was like, Whore ! I’ve been training for a year and a half already and I’m doing decently. I also worked with children with special needs and at Fitness Connection, ”continues Chavis. “I knew it was just for one season, and to see how everything has gone since then is insane to me.”

Brands will continue to seek out content creators who authentically engage with their audiences. Green, Hodges, and Chavis have all used their social media platforms to create further business opportunities for themselves and the circles around them, with a centralized goal of impacting the communities around them through basketball. -ball.

“I bet on myself and it works,” says Green. “I want to do a lot more, and I just want to keep striving and growing. ”

Luke Akinsola is a freelance writer who covers sports, music and pop culture. A full-time marketing and communications professional who also worked as a television producer at Fox Sports. Prior to her current job, Akinsola covered the women’s and men’s national basketball teams at the Rio 2016 Olympics. He is also a proud connoisseur of R&B and alumnus of Tar Heel.

Photo credit Donnie Bui, Milton Chavis and Clayton Boyd.


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