Marcus Sloan (l) with Houston bred All-Conference SMU point guard Kendrick Davis (r). Photo by Jimmie Aggison.

Marcus Sloan, a Houston native, has been a pillar in the greater Houston area’s amateur basketball circles.

Originally Sloan hooped at Eisenhower High School before playing collegiately at Texas Christian University where he received a BS in communication. After a 7-year professional career oversees, Sloan returned to Houston and started organizing tournaments in 2014 before launching OTR Exposure scouting services in 2017.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sloan was one of the first event operators in the country to host a sporting event. While catching some heat from some critics, you could tell the kids really appreciated the OTR events, especially those seniors trying to get scholarship offers.

When I attended one of OTR’s summer tournaments, Sloan’s team ensured the COVID protocols were followed and ensured attendants wore their masks inside with periodic “Mask Up” announcements from a roaming administrative team member.

Now, OTR Exposure hosts some of the most premiere tournaments that Houston AAU basketball has to offer. The Defender spoke with Sloan to discuss his experience, expertise on the subject and the upcoming AAU summer season.

Defender: In your opinion, what are the advantages and disadvantages to playing year-round basketball for amateurs?

Sloan: “Advantages are that kids get to play work on their game year-round and get a chance to get exposure and a chance at earning a college scholarship. The disadvantages are sometimes kids can get burned out playing year-round. Also, the pressure of trying to get a college scholarship can sometimes become overwhelming and kids lose sight that it’s just a game.”

Defender: What advice would you give to the parents of high school parents who want to take full advantage of their summers in AAU?

Sloan: “To be realistic. A lot of parents aren’t realistic about their kid’s chances of playing in college and their ability. I would also tell them to “Run Your Race,” meaning don’t look at other players’ situations or the opportunities they may or may not have, but to focus on your child and how you can help them.”

Defender: General thoughts on college players being able to get endorsements?  How do you see this playing out in AAU and high school sports?

Sloan: “I think it’s great that college players are getting a chance to make money off of their likeness. They bring in so much money for the universities, the players deserve a piece of the pie. I think this will trickle down to high school sports as the top players will also want to get money from their likeness, as well.”

6’3 Junior Bryce Griggs (Ft. Bend Hightower HS). Photo by Jimmie Aggison.

Defender: There was a lot of controversy surrounding organizers running high school sports tournaments during the pandemic? Why did you feel it was important to keep running tournaments during the pandemic and what have you learned up to now?

Sloan: “I did it because kids needed an outlet and an opportunity. We streamed every event so college coaches could watch kids play via the streaming services at my events. Most of those kids had been out for 4-5 months with no activity, no way to work on their game. I was happy I was one of the first event operators in the country to host events in the pandemic.”

Defender: Who are the players to watch out for this summer in AAU?

Sloan: “6’10 Sophomore Tyler Smith (Bush HS). Junior 6’3 Bryce Griggs (Hightower HS). Freshman 6’2 Zion Pipkin (Woodlands Christian HS). Senior 6’7 Terrence Arceneaux (Beaumont United).”