Stephen Curry was a three-star recruit as a high school senior.
The most influential player of a generation was a three-star recruit as a high school senior.
The best shooter ever was a three-star recruit as a high school senior.
A two-time MVP was a three-star recruit as a high school senior.
A three-time NBA champion was a three-star recruit as a high school senior.
That’s exactly why Curry started the Underrated Tour Powered by Rakuten. He knows just as well as any high school ballplayer in the nation that rankings don’t tell the whole story. Underrated gives current three-star high school basketball players a national platform and gifts them with the same skills training that #30 does on a daily basis.
The tour started in 2019 and was halted by the pandemic in 2020, so Curry and his team are extremely excited to get things going again for 2021.
“It’s all about the toolkit that you can take from the Tour, take it to your school or your AAU teams, your travel teams or your school teams and and hopefully they’ll be like, ‘Yo, where’d you learn that from?’ Be like, ‘Yo, I got it from the Underrated Tour. We stay underrated around here,’” Curry tells SLAM.
The 2021 Underrated Tour starts in Washington, DC on July 31 and August 1. It then moves on to Chicago for August 7 and August 8, Dallas for August 13 and August 14 and Los Angeles for August 21 and August 22. It wraps up in April of 2022 for the championship event in Oakland. Each stop of the tour will have the first day as a showcase for up to 75 boys and 75 girls and the second day as an invite-only setup for the top 30 boys and 30 girls based on day one performance. Curry’s longtime personal trainer, Brandon Payne, will lead the training. But the two-time MVP says that the mental side of the game is just as important as the physical side.
“I think going into the summer of junior year, I went to a team camp at UNC Charlotte,” Curry says. “Going to that team camp, you got to see some other coaches that came out to watch. Coach K, Roy Williams, all the ACC schools were there. I thought I played well. And then I’m like, ‘Alright, cool, I’m gonna get some recruiting letters in the mail in, like, the next week. I’m gonna take that next step towards realizing the dream of playing ACC basketball, high Division I basketball.’ And… nothing. Crickets. I got some, like, Colgate, or somebody that sent me my first letter and I thought that was amazing, but I was waiting for the big schools. When it didn’t happen, obviously, you see some competitors I’ve played against and them talking about their offers and all that. I did look at the rankings and knew exactly where I was. To your question about that wasn’t gonna define me, I knew if I continued to work on my game, and kept the confidence in myself, the right opportunity would come.”
The right opportunity came when Davidson head coach Bob McKillop offered him a scholarship. Three seasons with the Wildcats resulted in being the seventh overall pick of the 2009 draft. The decade-plus after that draft will be talked about for the rest of basketball’s future.
“I think a lot of people fall in love with the end goal,” Curry says. “Obviously, that’s nothing new, but that’s the social media era—you see the polished, finished product. And something I’ve learned over the years, and never really knew I was doing it at the time, was falling in love with the process of the work. And then you’ll wake up and that would be something that you’ll enjoy even more than where you end up. I can look at all the awards and accolades and successes… that’s amazing. And sometimes I don’t even celebrate them because I’ve already celebrated the work that goes in to it and I’ve really appreciated that. That part is much more fulfilling because it protects you from whatever the outcome is that you might not be able to control. Even if we lose every Finals or even if I never make it to the Finals, lose every game, whatever, the work that I put in, if I can enjoy that, then I’m doing something right.”
The work will come for the participants of the 2021 Underrated Tour. In April of 2022, the top eight girls and boys from each region will be flown to the Bay Area Championship, where the 64 finalists will compete for two spots in Curry Camp, according to the Tour’s press release.
But, as Curry says, that end goal isn’t the whole focus.
“We’ve celebrated double-figure kids now that have created scholarship opportunities out of the Underrated Tour,” Curry says. “Who knows where they would’ve been without it? Part of that is such an amazing experience to see manifest itself and we’re just getting started, so that gratitude of just being able to play basketball and the doors that basketball opens and the opportunity that’s being created is pretty awesome.”
Maybe the next basketball-thought-shifting, championship-winning, all-time great will be a product of the Underrated Tour.