Imagine watching a college basketball game and your phone or laptop computer is receiving a constant stream of data in real time.
The info varies, from where shots are being taking and the efficiency of those shots to where passes are being made to set up the winning baskets.
You look at the info, you go to your mobile betting app, you look for the in-game number and you make your wager based on the info you just recently received.
Welcome to high-tech gambling.
Davyeon Ross didn’t intend for his information provided by his company ShotTracker to be used by gamblers. But like anything else, inventions can be used in many forms. Ross isn’t in the betting business. His purpose is to help coaches win games by analyzing his company’s data in real time and making adjustments based on the information.
A microchip inside the basketball can record up to 70 data point situations with the information relayed within seconds. For instance, if a team is hitting shots from a particular distance with regularity or conversely missing those shots routinely, it can be a cause for a coach to make an adjustment.
More than 60 Division I college basketball programs in 12 conferences are utilizing ShotTracker. It also has become a valuable tool for broadcasters, who can convey to listeners and viewers something additional and explain why things are happening on the court at a given moment.
“Some minutes, it’s exciting and some minutes it’s scary as hell,” Ross said of his product and its impact on the game. “It’s another tool in the toolbox for coaches.”
The NCAA is on-board with it. Last year, for the first time, it allowed the real-time data from ShotTracker to be disseminated on the bench of a team during a game during the Hall of Fame Classic. Last March, the Mountain West used ShotTracker during its conference tournament in Las Vegas.
It has caught the eye of more than one basketball fan. One in particular, David Stern, was so impressed, he became an investor. Having the former NBA commissioner involved has boosted ShotTracker’s integrity and credibility in the basketball world.
“I got introduced to David through another venture capitalist,” Ross said. “The first time you meet David, he tests you to see if you can take a punch. David can see around corners. He’s a visionary. When he saw what we were doing to change the game, he got excited.”
Stern, who is no dummy when it comes to sports betting, agrees that bettors can benefit from the information ShotTracker produces. But he sees a bigger picture.
“We are on the cusp—it may take three or four years—of a next generation of information that is going to go with the broadcast of the game,” Stern told SportsTechie.com in an interview. “There’s going to be social media involved while watching the game. The ability to bring up statistics at any time you might request. The ability to watch the game with avatars who are representing friends of yours by WiFi.
“There’s going to be the ability to have somebody else broadcast the game if you’re not favoring the play-by-play announcers. If you keep going, you’re going to come to the conclusion ‘Why not odds and the ability to make a bet?’”
ShotTracker was conceived in a backyard in Overland Park, Kan., in 2013 by Ross and Bruce Ianni, whose kid was a basketball player. Ianni, a former football player, was into analytics and Ross, who played college basketball at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., thought he could help Ianni’s kid improve by tracking where he was shooting and get his efficiency level up.
They formed a partnership believing they could market the info to entire teams. They reworked the product to be able to capture data in practice and later, in games.
“The coaches had started using it and our product wasn’t designed for it so we essentially went back to the drawing board in 2015,” Ross, 41, said. “It’s been an ongoing evolution for our company.”
Investors came on board after seeing ShotTracker’s potential impact. Among the investors were SeventySix Capital, Stern and NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.
Ross believed coaches, like bettors, are always looking for an edge, and ShotTracker was more willing to be accepted.
“Coaches have a feel for what they see,” Ross said. “They have hunches in helping form their decisions they make during the game. What we’ve done is we gave them the data to back up their hunches. We’re providing things you don’t see in the box score.
“They love the real-time nature and how it streamlines their operations. They can use the data to work with the video and show the players. It’s a valuable tool.”
And while ShotTracker wasn’t developed with gamblers in mind, Ross said if the data is used correctly, it could be the difference between winning and losing a bet.
“I think what it does is it gives you the opportunity to make more accurate decisions and it will benefit you,” Ross said.
The goal is for all Division I teams to use ShotTracker and perhaps the NBA and international pro teams. The possibilities are unlimited.
“It’s been an evolution for our company,” Ross said. “We’re gaining more acceptance from folks in college basketball. We’re moving the needle.”