Jacob Villarreal can put it simply.
His team isn’t playing for trophies at this point.
With preparation for college in mind, and a new name to put on the group’s jerseys, Villarreal is raising travel funds this spring for the Odessa youth basketball team he helps coordinate, which has been accepted entry to play in Adidas Gauntlet national circuit events this summer.
For Villarreal, and the near-dozen Odessa student-athletes in his group, the chance to travel to those events is less about basketball, and more about what basketball can do for the athletes, he says.
True to that message, the team, known as the ‘Odessa Magik,’ is donning the name ‘Scholarship Grinders’ this summer.
“My main thing behind my deal is to just to put the reality of free education on them and try to save parents tens of thousands of dollars,” Villarreal said.
The team plans to travel to tournaments in Dallas and Atlanta this summer, while playing for a chance to qualify for a third tournament in New York, as part of Adidas’ Silver Gauntlet national circuit.
To put together travel and entry funds, Villarreal is seeking sponsorships and planning upcoming fundraiser events.
Student-athletes from both Permian and Odessa High are set to play with the 17-and-under boys team, with the goal in mind to experience the travel, improve by playing against high-level players during the summer, and, ultimately, piece together the connections that could help get players to the next level.
Besides organizing games and tournament entry, Villarreal said he works with players to set up online recruiting profiles, zero in on realistic college choices, and sift through information on athletic and academic scholarships.
“That’s all I’m trying to do, is just help these kids and get the burden off the parents for these scholarships and stuff like that,” he said.
This summer, with their application accepted to play in Adidas’ events, Villarreal and his players hope to make that happen.
Villarreal said those seeking to contribute or learn more about sponsorships can call 432-202-8570, or visit the team’s “Odessa_Magik” Instagram page.
“We’re not playing for trophies no more,” Villarreal said. “I’m not trophy chasing. We’ve got enough hardware. I’m trying to go play in front of scouts and coaches now.
“I’m just excited for them, just to be able to experience that, at that level,” he added.