We had the chance to sit down with Art Morrison III, the former professional basketball player whose youth basketball training program, AboveMAX Basketball, has become one of the largest and most respected brands in the tri-state area.
Today, we learn more about how Morrison III started AboveMAX Basketball—and why youth sports are so important to the development of a child.
Thank you for joining us. Can you tell us a little about how you started AboveMAX Basketball?
I had been playing overseas in Portugal, but when that ended and I came home, the plan was to use my name to run some camps and generate some income. At first, I called it Art Morrison Skills Training—I didn’t even include basketball in the title.
I began branding myself as a professional athlete with this very specific mentality of overcoming adversity. And I started getting a ton of opportunities to train as well as coach teams.
So when you first started, you were coaching for someone else?
I was coaching two or three teams, because other facilities wanted me to coach their teams as well. And as I began coaching, people from those teams became extremely loyal to me as a person, because of my story and the passion I had for basketball.
I was pouring NBA-level passion into nine-year-old kids. Which, for parents, that’s all you want is a coach that is passionate about your kid’s development, regardless of talent. So that became our niche.
How did you go from individual coaching to building your own program?
Knowing my career and seeing how good I was at coaching, the people at these facilities advised me to start my own program, and that is when I changed the name to AboveMAX Basketball.
Your program has grown considerably over the years. How did you go from coaching to running a full-scale training program?
When we first started AboveMAX Basketball, we went from two teams to six, then six to eight, then eight to twelve. Since the pandemic, we have floated between 4-8 teams every year. So you begin to make a name for yourself in that space. And then we started doing tournaments for anywhere from 20-30 teams.
It was amazing to see how much impact we have locally in basketball. We had teams, we had one-on-one training, group clinics, and tournaments. From there, we decided to start an Instagram brand and sell merchandise, and suddenly the program was bigger than just me and my career. It was bigger than just playing for a professional basketball player. It had become a culture.
That must have been very rewarding for you. How were you able to scale the business to serve more families in the area?
We have a great product, so we had to get intentional about hiring coaches and staff who shared the same philosophy and the same passion.
It has helped me grow as a businessman. I realized that I could not do all the coaching and continue to scale—you have to hire, you cannot do it all. We put our coaches and trainers through vigorous training and orientation to make sure they align with our ideologies and philosophies.
You have even created your own online training program—how do you use videos to teach basketball skills?
I am on the videos, and we record something from up close, from afar, slow motion, fast-paced, and then we break it down. Then the recording beeps so people know it’s their turn to go—and I am there coaching them through it.
It is really robust and amazing, no one is really doing it like that. Some people shoot in-person sessions and then organize it into a curriculum, but ours is really intentionally shot, teaching directly to the camera so you feel you are there.
You have had a lot of success in basketball, both as a player and now running AboveMAX Basketball. What drives you to work with youth?
It just has a huge impact. Kids need something to keep them disciplined and focused and persistent toward a goal, even goals outside of basketball. Sports can teach self-discipline.
And then team building is important for kids. We have seen dramatic changes in the kids, just how they interact with other people, how they grow and mature.
And then one other aspect is overcoming adversity, and that might be the biggest one. You’re not always going to play as much as you want to play, you’re not always going to win, you’re not always going to be the best.
Sometimes, things are going to be in your way. But there is always another practice. There is always another game. There is always another day.
That is so important in life, but especially in a kid’s life, in today’s day and age.