Making it in professional sports (i.e., football, baseball, and basketball) for many high school students is like winning the lottery. There are thousands of kids competing in every city, all hoping to fill a few dozen spots each year. When it comes to basketball, somehow, the town of Kinston, North Carolina, found the keys to success, as documented in Marcus Mizelle’s documentary, Something In The Water: A Kinston Basketball Story.
Speaking of lottery, for an average community, maybe 1 in 10,000 students finds a winning ticket and makes it into the NBA. In Kinston, it’s 1 in 50, including alumni, such as Cedric Maxwell, Charles Shackleford, Jerry Stackhouse, Reggie Bullock, and Brandon Ingram. Director Mizelle attempts to answer how Kinston’s program found incredible success… or as the title suggests, find out if there”is it something in the water?”
The film is comprised mostly of B-roll footage of the basketball program and interviews with coaches (past and current), players, and parents. As a case in point, it follows emerging star Dontrez Styles on his journey to a full-ride scholarship with a top NCAA university. Though very few students will actually find success in the NBA, many will find a way to a better life through a college education as a reward for their hard work.
“…attempts to answer how Kinston’s program found incredible success…”
Basketball is entrenched in the entire community in a more positive way than you’d expect. Students are groomed from a young age at various community centers and mentored by their coaches, ensuring they maintain good grades, live in a stable family environment, and keeping them out of trouble on the streets. Ultimately, players move to Kinston High School, where mentors stress finding a plan B, C, or D in life as a professional career can end in an instant as it did for promising alum Brandon Ingram.
Though not directly, Something In The Water: A Kinston Basketball Story addresses many social criticisms that high schools and colleges face, where they exploit students to build a sports program focused on state championships at the expense of quality education for graduates. Mizelle addresses these issues (though not explicitly), showing the community’s commitment to family, education, and giving back.
Though the premise of Something In The Water: A Kinston Basketball Story is to explain why the town of Kinston produces an extraordinary number of NBA players, the movie is really about presenting an effective model, a philosophy, of how to build a youth sports program that benefits the students, school, and community. It is a win-win-win situation and an attainable one too.
"…addresses many social criticisms that high schools and colleges face..."