Grayson Boucher The Professor BallUp

Grayson “The Professor” Boucher carves a route around a defender during a BallUp game earlier this year. (Submitted photo)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

For the past three years, Grayson Boucher has been telling the story of playing one-on-one with Chris “Ludacris” Bridges on the set of Ball Don’t Lie.

The movie, which stars Boucher as the main character Sticky, wrapped filming in 2008 and will finally be released later this year – bringing some credibility to his well-worn tale.

“That’s the thing the kids like to hear about the most, but I also developed a great friendship with Mykelti Williamson and he was my acting coach until last year,” Boucher said. Williamson is best known for his portrayal of Benjamin Buford “Bubba” Blue in the movie Forrest Gump. “I took acting lessons for about six months prior to filming, but it helped that the character was a basketball player because the world isn’t too distant from my own.”

Boucher, a Keizer native son and former student at McNary and Salem Academy, signed with AND1 Streetball after a brief career at Chemeketa Community College and now plays for BallUp Streetball. Streetball focuses less on rules and enforcement of structure and more on showcasing individual players’ unique style, which Boucher has in droves. Currently, Boucher can be seen in BallUp’s first season airing on the Fox Root Sports network.

In Streetball circles, Boucher is known as “The Professor” for the ways in which he schools opponent with his ball handling and other abilities that surprise opponents that think his 5-foot-10 stature is all they need to know.

“It’s about the basics. A lot of kids will practice the tricks and think that’s what makes it look good, my goal is teaching them the way I learned, which was getting the basics down pat and then expanding it from there,” Boucher, 27, said. What he doesn’t mention in that overly-modest description of his abilities is he can also dunk.

In addition to signing with a new streetball organization, Boucher has launched a new website, www.theprofessorlive.com, to draw attention to his clinics and a series of mobile apps with tips for aspirant streetballers is planned for later this year.

“I’ve hosted about a dozen of the clinics all over the world while we’ve toured, but this is the first real push I’ve made for them,” Boucher said.

One of the most memorable stops of the 40 countries he’s visited was in Angola, Africa, last December.

“I got to experience some of the culture and it was really eye-opening and going to the beach was super-beautiful. I also got to meet some of the people who run the country and spend time with a bunch of fans who had been waiting forever for us to stop in Africa,” Boucher said.

Streetball is more heavily promoted to international audiences than the U.S., but BallUp is making a concerted effort to drum up domestic audiences, Boucher said. He and other members of the organization are in Indonesia this week and a trip to Japan is planned for September.

In addition to touring with BallUp, Boucher has been in several commercials while waiting for Ball Don’t Lie to release and he’s workings as a producer on a couple of independent films.

“My biggest project right now, though, is BallUp, being out on tour and then the start of filming the second season at the end of this year,” Boucher said. “The rest of it will all fall into place around that.”