Foothill League basketball alumni Taylor Statham, Jawhar Purdy and Robert Looper have always been connected by basketball, but their careers on the hardwood recently diverged.
Statham was enjoying a successful career of playing overseas, Purdy stepped away from playing to pursue a coaching career and Looper was rehabbing an ACL tear with hopes of getting back on the court.
But on Jan. 17, their basketball lives will converge once again when the trio leaves for Thailand to compete in the Thailand Super League.
“I worked since I was seven years old to try to do this and finally, it’s like the opportunity is finally here,” said Looper. “It’s honestly a dream come true.”
Looper and Statham played together at Golden Valley, while Purdy played for Saugus. All graduated in 2010.
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Looper was competing in the California Basketball Association, a semi-pro league, when he got the call from Statham.
“When Taylor first mentioned it to me, I thought he was just messing with me,” he said. “Since we’ve been 14 years old, me and him have done this basketball thing and he’s always said, whoever gets to where they want to go first, has to put the other person on.”
Once he figured out Statham was for real, Looper was still wary. He had never been out of the country before and was unsure of putting his life on hold for three months to play basketball in Thailand.
But, he was comforted by the fact that he’ll be living and playing with Statham and Purdy.
Purdy echoed the sentiment. He has previously played in the Philippines and Malaysia, but stepped away from the game two years ago because he felt like he was missing out on a life with his friends and family back home.
He took an assistant coaching job at Trinity Classical Academy, a move Purdy said changed his perspective on the game.
“The game slowed down for me just because I’m seeing it from every angle now, versus just my position,” said the point guard.
Purdy also added that he’s become a wiser player since his pro basketball hiatus, setting aside time to stretch and make sure his body is in optimum condition.
Statham and Purdy, who are co-owners of the “Ball Out” basketball training company, are also hoping to expand their business overseas by hosting camps for youth players in Thailand.
“We already have kids asking to train with us in the summers,” Statham said. “We’re thinking about bringing out a few pro teams to train out here … It’s a nice feeling giving back and them coming home and being able to help the kids here.”