BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. (KMSP) - Excell Academy charter school in Brooklyn Park, Minn. is calling out NBA players for a big challenge. The dean of the school, Justin Balvin, says he can beat any pro out there in a 13-shot “around the world” shootout, including a half-court shot.
“Kids ask me all the time why I’m not in the NBA,” Balvin said.
The truth is, while he's makes 90 percent of the shots be takes, he wasn't good enough to play into college. But Mr. Balvin wants to be an inspiration to his kids, because they already inspire him.
Last summer, Excell Academy was recognized by the Star Tribune for “beating the odds” and the Department of Education for being one of the top schools receiving Title 1 funding. 96 percent of the students at Excell are below the poverty line and get free or reduced school lunches. Yet over the past 2 years they've gone up 16 percent in proficiency in math and reading.
“That's a testament to our staff and the environment they create, and the belief that every student can and will compete at a high level,” Balvin said.
But the school is in dire need of new technology. Currently there are 30 laptops... for more than 400 students. Plus, they share a playground with the school next door.
“Our kids definitely deserve a playground,” Balvin said. “430 kids here. They work hard, they should play hard.”
So instead of doing a traditional fundraiser, the school tipped off a social media challenge, using the hashtag #beatingtheoddschallenge.
“We are asking NBA players to take the beating the odds challenge, which is to match what I did live at an assembly and make 13 shots in a row, including a half-court shot,” Balvin said.
If they can't make the shots, they're hoping challengers will pledge a donation instead. Balvin is already naming specific players he wants to take the challenge.
“LeBron James, Rachel at the U -- she's on fire lately,” he said. “Any Timberwolves players. Zach LaVine, Karl Anthony Towns, Monta Ellis.”
But above all, Balvin would love to get in a shootout with one of the best long-range shooters the NBA has ever seen.
“Steph Curry, no question,” he said. “I think I can take Steph Curry in a shirt and tie.”
To donate, visit http://www.excellacademy.dreamhosters.com/beating-the-odds-challenge/