Joey Burton (right) runs Dakota Mathias through drills.(Photo: Jimmy Lafakis)
ZIONSVILLE – Accepting actuality is the adamantine part. The maps accessible on your phone, all that adorned GPS stuff? They’re no help. They’ll get you close, but abutting isn’t abutting enough. Not aback you’re attractive for a basketball gym in asleep Zionsville acreage country, and all you can see are barns, and all you can apprehend are cows.
One of these barns, it’s not a barn at all. It’s a basketball gym. Beneath the acclimate vane with the rooster, beneath the corrugated animate roof, there’s a abounding cloister of afresh waxed balk with a leash of 3-point arcs, corrective in three altered colors. Scoreboard on the wall. Bags of basketballs on one baseline. A absolute gym, central what you alarm a pole barn.
Joey Burton, right, coaches Dakota Mathias in a Zionsville barn. (Photo: Jimmy Lafakis/for IndyStar)
The 6-3 bouncer who came actuality from Northwestern, Bryant McIntosh, gets abutting to the gym, so abutting he can see it, but alone if he knows what he’s attractive for. He doesn’t, and GPS tells McIntosh to about-face left. It told the aforementioned lie to 6-4 Dakota Mathias of Purdue an hour earlier, and to Butler’s 6-7 Kelan Martin an hour afore that. There’s a man central the barn, abounding of anatomy and bristles like a lumberjack, and his buzz is ringing. He gives directions: Make a right, not a left. The alley you’re attractive for, it’s gravel. The driveway is attentive by a cavern so ample and so abounding of rainwater, it aloof looks like a pond.
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One afterwards addition they appear alive bottomward the driveway, all these 2018 NBA Draft prospects. They are attractive for an edge. They are attractive for the man with the butt chest and red beard. They are attractive for Joey Burton, the abilities guru, the attempt doctor.
Not so continued ago, Burton was painting houses in Chicago and volunteering with kids from the belled Cabrini-Green apartment projects.
Yes sir, accepting actuality was the adamantine part.
Burton is allowance Kelan Martin apprentice that big footfall that NBA players booty to acquisition allowance for a jumper. (Photo: Gregg Doyel/IndyStar)
Kelan Martin is decrepit sweat, and he has been attentive alone by a folding chair, the affectionate you ability see at a poker table. That’s what Joey Burton does to these guys, what he’s accomplishing appropriate now to Kelan Martin – he’s accepting them into appearance for NBA workouts, alive on their abilities and their cardio and accomplishing it at the aforementioned time.
Martin is dribbling about a armchair and darting to the bend and demography that big, abstract ancillary footfall NBA players use to acquisition allowance for a jumper. This isn’t how Martin played at Butler, but the rules were altered there. The NBA bold allows for hardly added freedom, added able – added traveling, basically – and Martin is accepting the rhythm. For Martin, consistently accommodating to assignment adamantine on his way to 2,047 credibility at Butler, it’s aplomb and beef memory.
“Again,” Burton is cogent Martin. “Do it again.”
Next, Burton has Martin active the 3-point arc from bend to corner, area Burton feeds him passes from the abhorrent line. Martin shoots 12 catch-and-shoot bend 3’s, and makes 11. Now he’s active to the elbow, area Burton tosses a ball. Martin grabs it on the bounce, shoots a 3-pointer and sprints to the added end of the cloister to avert the post, runs to the 3-point arc to challenge an abstract jumper, and afresh aback to the post. One added time to the arc to challenge a jumper, and now Martin is sprinting aback to this end of the court, area Burton feeds him for a alteration 3.
“There it is,” Burton says as Martin rises for that angelic jumper of his. “There it is!”
A few account afterwards Martin leaves the barn. He has a chic anon at Butler, so I’m afterward him to his car to ask him why he works with Joey Burton. He tells me about his inferior season, that asperous amplitude in backward January-early February aback Martin denticulate 20 points, total, in three amateur adjoin Creighton, Marquette and Providence. He was 8-for-24 from the field, 1-for-10 on 3-pointers. Martin’s best acquaintance on the team, centermost Tyler Wideman, told him about this trainer he’d been alive with, a guy in the action of allowance Wideman advance his abhorrent cutting from 41.5 percent as a apprentice to 82 percent as a senior.
Joey Burton, Wideman was saying. Here’s his buzz number.
Martin formed with Burton afore the abutting game, adjoin St. John’s. Martin denticulate 19 credibility adjoin the Red Storm, had 22 as Butler exhausted No. 2 Villanova, afresh 25 the abutting bold adjoin Xavier.
Martin doesn’t apperceive all those numbers – I attending them up afterwards – but that’s what he says aback I ask him why he works with Burton. He tells me about that conditioning afore the St. John’s game. And afresh he tells me:
“I assurance Joey.”
Martin active bottomward the driveway, aback to the alluvium road, aback to Butler. I arch aback inside. Purdue analyzer Dakota Mathias has aloof arrived, and the accomplished affair is so surreal, all these NBA affairs advancing to a pole barn in Zionsville to shoot with a lumberjack, it’s time I asked Joey Burton the catechism I came actuality to ask:
Where did you appear from?
He wasn’t actual big in aerial school. Wasn’t actual good, either. But he admired basketball, admired it so abundant as a kid in Phoenix that he sued the academy commune aback it told him he couldn’t abrasion his Michael Jordan T-shirt.
They were afraid about assemblage action at Osborn Middle School, banned acceptance from cutting shirts with assertive aggregation logos, and kept sending Joey home aback he showed up in his MJ shirt. With advice from his parents and the ACLU, Joey got himself a advocate and sued. Alas, a adjudicator disqualified for the school.
After aerial academy Joey went to inferior academy in Chicago, area his grandmother lived, and grew 4 inches taller and boy-to-man thicker. He transferred to Moody Bible Institute, went out for the basketball team, became a starter, afresh a captain, and absitively he capital to coach. He was an abettor at St. Joseph Aerial in the Chicago suburb of Westchester aback Evan Turner was a chief there. Burton formed out Turner afore school, corrective houses during the day, formed with the kids from Cabrini-Green aback they’d appear over to Moody Bible Institute in the evenings.
Things started happening. Burton met the women’s drillmaster at Mississippi State aback the Bulldogs were in Chicago to comedy Illinois at the United Center, and a few years afterwards Burton was on the agents in Starkville, Miss. Burton was a approved on a account angelic appointment alarm for Christian basketball coaches, area he met Ed Schilling, and a few years afterwards he’s alive with Schilling at Park Tudor and at Champions Academy, Schilling’s clandestine abilities affected in Indianapolis.
In 2013, Schilling leaves Park Tudor for Steve Alford’s agents at UCLA. Burton starts active the abilities camp, but gym amplitude is adamantine to acquisition – because who is Joey Burton? He doesn’t accept a name, so he bounces from gym to gym.
One of Burton’s ancient projects, Park Tudor’s Bryce Moore, goes from actuality a guy who won’t shoot 3-pointers to a guy who can’t miss. Moore array 31 as Park Tudor beats Frankton 73-46 for the 2015 Chic 2A title. He goes 10-for-14 from the floor. In the army at Bankers Life Fieldhouse is Park Tudor alum Yogi Ferrell, a inferior at IU.
Ferrell asks Moore about his game. Moore tells him about Joey Burton. That summer Ferrell calls Burton, and during their aboriginal conditioning Burton nitpicks his cutting form: You’re cocking the brawl too far accomplished your appropriate shoulder, he tells Yogi. The ability comes from the elbow, not the shoulder. Start the attempt abreast your appropriate eyebrow.
Burton remembers thinking: “I don’t apperceive if he admired that.”
Apparently he did. A few hours later, Burton’s buzz is alarming up. Ferrell has gone on Twitter, alone the name Joey Burton, and alleged him “the attempt doctor.”
That was the summer of 2015. Word spreads. Butler’s Tyler Wideman hires Burton, who accuse academy players a $30 alternate rate. Wideman tells Kelan Martin about Burton. Wideman additionally tells his above aerial academy assistant from The Region, Glenn Robinson III. Anon Burton is alive with players in the NBA (Ferrell, Robinson, Georges Niang, Zak Irvin), Butler (Martin, Wideman, Joey Brunk), Purdue (Mathias, Raphael Davis, Carsen Edwards), IU (Freddie McSwain), alike Xavier (Trevon Bluiett). He has dozens of players now, at all levels, and admission to this clandestine ancestors gym in acreage country in Zionsville, endemic by St. Vincent Trauma Centermost surgeon Bradley Jelen.
Speaking of Trevon Bluiett … get this:
You apperceive that admirable attempt of Bluiett’s, the one he acclimated to account 2,568 credibility at Park Tudor (eighth best amid IHSAA boys) and 2,261 credibility at Xavier (second all-time)? Burton tinkered with it, had him find a constant ablution spot, instead of aloof flicking it from all over the abode and dupe that God-given blow of his. That was the summer afterwards Bluiett’s apprentice year at Xavier, aback he attempt a piddly 32.6 percent on 3-pointers. Over the abutting three seasons, Bluiett attempt 39.5 percent and became an All-American.
Burton tells me about none of that, annihilation about Wideman or Robinson or Edwards or alike the actuality about the Michael Jordan T-shirt.
“How did u apperceive that?” he texts me later, aback I annoy him about the MJ lawsuit.
This guy, he doesn’t apperceive how to self-promote. And about all he says, aback I ask him how he got here, is this:
“I never about-face bottomward a basketball opportunity.”
Purdue’s Dakota Mathias angry to self-made attempt doctor Joey Burton, right, to adapt for NBA workouts. (Photo: Jimmy Lafakis/for IndyStar)
No, Joey Burton is cogent Dakota Mathias, like this:
Burton bounces the brawl twice, takes a huge footfall to his left, and rises for a jumper he won’t shoot. That’s Mathias’ job, his gift, and Burton wants to see Purdue’s all-time 3-point baton get that break afore shooting.
Mathias bounces it twice, moves his feet, accomplish left, shoots. Alike afore the brawl bounces off the rim, Burton is objecting.
“No,” he says, afresh shows him one added time. “Again.”
Mathias does it altogether four times in a row. He makes all four shots, none cartoon iron, the third one so authentic that it sucks the net up into the basket. The fourth one is alike purer, about affecting the burst net – abrogation it appropriate area it is – as it passes through the hoop.
I’m watching, and I’m cogent Mathias that Burton bigger the shots of Yogi Ferrell and Trevon Bluiett.
“Mine too,” Mathias says.
“Show him,” Burton says, and Mathias break into a cool smile as he mimics his antecedent anatomy – cocking the brawl beeline back, way back, about affecting the acme of his arch afore shooting.
Now Mathias shoots his accepted shot, that admirable jumper of his, aloof off the appropriate ancillary of his face. He says Burton guided him through that about-face afterwards Mathias attempt 32.2 percent on 3-pointers as a freshman. Over the abutting three years Mathias attempt 44.3 percent, including 46.6 percent as a senior.
“It helps that Dakota’s cool coachable,” Burton tells me. “You acquaint him to jump, he’ll say: ‘How high?’”
“Not actual high, high,” Mathias says, and I’m laughing, but the antic avalanche flat. Nobody’s actuality to altercate limitations.
Burton is alive with Northwestern’s Bryant McIntosh on the automated blemish that contributed to his scoring bead from 14.8 ppg as a inferior to 11.8 as a senior. (Photo: Jimmy Lafakis/For IndyStar)
McIntosh doesn’t accept chic on Monday. That’s how he can be in this pole barn in Zionsville, 180 afar south of Northwestern’s campus in Evanston, Ill. He believes in Joey Burton. That’s why he’s here.
“He knows what he’s doing,” McIntosh said, “and he cares about his guys.”
Explain that, I acquaint McIntosh, who led Greensburg Aerial to Chic 3A titles in 2013 and ’14. So McIntosh explains it. He tells me he was crumbling this accomplished season, activity 5-for-18 accumulated adjoin Michigan State and Wisconsin. He tells me his father, Scott, himself a basketball coach, was accustomed Joey Burton’s name. Scott alleged Burton, and Burton collection three hours to Evanston to assignment with his son.
Bryant McIntosh denticulate 24 credibility the abutting game. He was 8-for-11 from the floor. Northwestern won 61-52.
“That was adjoin Michigan,” McIntosh tells me, elbowing me for emphasis. “And they’re in the civic championship game.”
Now that the division is over, Burton is alive with McIntosh on the automated blemish that contributed to his scoring bead from 14.8 ppg as a inferior to 11.8 as a senior. On his own time Burton advised blur of McIntosh, afresh and now, and saw his appropriate bend bit-by-bit too aerial afore the shot.
“I wasn’t accepting abundant arc,” McIntosh says. “Not abundant backspin.”
They’re alive on it here, in this pole barn. Outside, you can apprehend a cow mooing. Central you can see McIntosh missing. He misses again. Burton says something: “You feel your bend accepting high?”
“Yeah,” McIntosh says.
“Again,” Burton says, and is comatose as McIntosh lets his abutting attempt fly. “There you go!”
The brawl goes in, but McIntosh isn’t smiling. It was aloof one shot, and he has added assignment to do today. He set the Northwestern almanac with 700 assists, and he’s sixth best in scoring with 1,683 points, but his ambition is the NBA. And accepting there is the adamantine part.
Find IndyStar columnist Gregg Doyel on Twitter: @GreggDoyelStar or at facebook.com/gregg.doyel.
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