Friday, June 15, 2007
Pistons become like a second family to alumnusBy Rebecca Wyatt Thomas, OU Web Writer
In 2003, his last season of playing basketball for Oakland University, Ryan Hoover, CAS ’04, was sidelined with a knee injury. It was devastating for someone who had made basketball his life. But the Detroit Pistons gave him a chance in a different role. Hoover took an internship with the team and was quickly promoted to video coordinator assistant and now Director of Player Development.
“Around here, the expectations are really high. We’ve had so much success here that it is almost expected. Joe Dumars (General Manager) and John Hammond (Vice President of Basketball Operations) expect nothing else. We are very fortunate and we know how good we are as a team,” Hoover said. “The way this season ended is extremely disappointing. But you play seven games for a reason and Cleveland was the better team. We have to get better. We have to get better in every way.”
While the team’s season is technically over, it’s just starting for those within the organization that help the team “get better” — including Hoover.
“I’m a jack-of-all-trades. If I’m not traveling with the team, then I’m on the road watching college games and watching college players for the up-and-coming drafts. With the team, I’m working players out individually on things they need to improve on,” Hoover said.
As a student at L’Anse Creuse High School in Harrison Township, Mich., Hoover remembers OU basketball coach Greg Kampe telling his family that Hoover would be playing in front of Fortune 500 companies each time he took the court as a Golden Grizzly. Kampe said playing at OU would give Hoover many opportunities, but Hoover said he never expected an opportunity to work with a championship team while he was still finishing up college.
“My dream growing up was always to play in the NBA,” Hoover said. “I always felt if I wasn’t good enough to play in the NBA, I hoped I would, in some way, get to work with the NBA. I got a couple of good breaks. I was in the right place at the right time. And my hard work paid off. I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for Oakland University. I’m very thankful and grateful for the opportunities they gave me.”
After four years with the Pistons organization, Hoover is still excited about the possibilities that are before him with the team.
“I get to work with such wonderful people and great basketball knowledge. I’m learning so much every day,” Hoover said. “I have such a passion and such a love and respect for the game and these players. I never get sick of it. I love the smell of the gym. I love hearing the ball bounce. I love the shoes squeaking on the floor. I could be in the gym morning, noon and night.”
Hoover is young, but he believes that the sky is the limit and nothing is impossible. He said Sam Presti was recently hired as the general manager of the Seattle Supersonics at the age of 30. Hoover said these roles were typically filled by men with more experience, but the younger, driven men are now finding themselves with the same opportunities and earning the respect of their more experienced counterparts.
“I am a spiritual person and my future is all in God’s hands. Whether I go into coaching one day, work in a front office, do scouting, it’s all in His hands,” Hoover said. “I’m so happy where I’m at. This team is my family and I love being with my family every day and learning with the people I’m learning from every day.”