If you live on Harrison St. in downtown Guthrie, set your alarm for 4:30 a.m. sometime next week and take a look outside your window. You’ll likely see Braydin Russell jogging to the gym to get some extra work in. You’ll know it’s her because her mother, Jennifer Russell, will be following her in her car with the hazard lights on. It’s not clear whether the hazard lights are for her safety or yours. Because attached to Braydin is one of the best weapons in America.
Her shooting arm.
Braydin Russell, an eighth-grade student at St. Mary’s, remembers exactly where she was when her life changed.
“It was about two-and-a-half years ago,” Russell said. “I was watching the NBA Finals and it went to commercial and Klay Thompson was using ShotTracker and I thought it was pretty cool.”
ShotTracker is a sensor based system that automatically captures statistical and performance analytics in real-time. To use it, Braydin puts on a wristband with a built-in sensor and attaches another sensor to the net on a basketball goal. With every flick of the wrist, it registers a shot. With every movement of the net, it registers a maker. All of the data is sent directly to your phone via bluetooth. ShotTracker can track your workout up to 96-percent accuracy.
After seeing the commercial, Braydin knew she had to have it. First, she had to convince her father that she needed it.
“One thing I make all my kids do, is if they want something that costs money, you have to prove to me why you want it,” Doug Russell said. “I told her to go research it and let me know exactly what it was because it was $150. My thought process was if she cared enough about it to do the research and is still after me a week or two later, then lets go ahead and try it out. We did and it’s probably the best decision we’ve made. It’s opened up a lot of doors.”
Since purchasing the ShotTracker, Russell has used it during every single one of her workouts. So far, in two-and-a-half years, she has registered over 370,000 shots and over 200,000 makes. Every day, before school, she’ll jog up to the gym and try to make 200 shots. That’s makes, not attempts. After school and team practice, she’ll either stick around or come back after dinner for her remaining 300 makes. All in all, every week day, Russell makes 500 shots a day.
Russell’s hard work and dedication to her craft, along with her data on ShotTracker, helped get her noticed on a grand scale. Russell was chosen by one of the leading athletic shoe and apparel companies in America that conducted a nationwide search for the best stories on grassroot players that are changing the game in the future. Out of the thousands that submitted stories, Russell was one of four to be selected in an upcoming documentary that will be broadcast on their company’s website and social media platforms.
When she found out she was one of the four, Braydin couldn’t believe it.
“At first it didn’t seem real at all,” Braydin said. “Whenever they showed up with all their equipment and all that stuff, it was like ‘okay, this is real’. It was kind of crazy at first but it got better.”
The film crew arrived Saturday night and spent the next two days following her around, filming her life. They filmed everything from her morning run, her time at school, practices with her team, and individual workouts with her ShotTracker equipment.
“It was kind of weird at first,” Braydin said. “It was crazy because Monday morning they were over here at 4:30 a.m. filming me wake up and brush my teeth. I didn’t really like it at first because every time I turned around there was a camera right there but I kind of got used to it after a while.”
The documentary will highlight the work ethic of Russell, her life and the town of Guthrie. Doug says this validates everything he has ever said when it comes to hard work.
“What’s neat for me as a dad, is through her hard work by getting up every morning and putting in the work, that’s what got this for her,” Doug said. “It was her hard work that got her this opportunity and kind of put her on the map a little bit as being one of the top shooters in the country. As a parent, and a former coach, it kind of validates everything you say as far as keep working and good things are going to happen. It was all her. ShotTracker put her name out there, but if she doesn’t make that decision two-and-a-half years ago to start putting in the work, this whole thing doesn’t happen. So it absolutely validates everything I’ve kind of said to her.”
Braydin’s goal is to become the best shooter ever. Her favorite player, Steph Curry, holds that title at the moment. But her drive and determination to be the best is what keeps her going. That’s why she never misses a day or a session. That’s why if you set your alarm at 4:30 a.m. and look out your window, you’ll see Braydin running in the street, followed closely by a vehicle with flashing lights.