They call themselves Dude Perfect – “6 college guys making basketball shots.”
What they are is an Internet phenomenon.
Since posting their first video on YouTube in April – yep, a video of six guys making impossibly difficult basketball shots – they’ve attracted more than 20 million views and appeared on network news shows, major sports channels and in the international press.
Not bad for a bunch of buddies at Texas A&M, three of them from Collin County, who just wanted to show off for family and friends.
And to think, it all started over a bet for a free lunch.
“We had pooled our money, and we bought a basketball goal, the cheapest goal we could find, and we put it in the backyard,” said Tyler Toney of Prosper. “Garrett [Hilbert, also from Prosper] was over one day, and we walked out back and I told him that if I made this shot from across the yard, he had to buy my lunch.”
Suddenly, basketballs were flying in every direction, from the far corner of the yard, from the neighbor’s yard, from lawn chairs on the roof, this time with the video camera catching it all.
“We decided we were going to put the first one up on YouTube just to show our friends and families, and we didn’t expect anything to happen,” Toney said. “We never thought it would go this far.”
It began in the classic way – word of mouth, although most of those words were electronic. The viewer counts on YouTube began climbing, slowly at first. The dudes in Dude Perfect added Google AdSense to the video “to see if we could make some money,” Toney said.
“I think after two weeks, we made 1 cent. When it got to 6 cents, we were all going to get one and frame it,” he said. “That shows how much we expected out of it.”
But the checks soon got larger – roughly $300 a day for a short while, said Cody Jones of Plano – and the dudes donated the proceeds to Compassion International, a Christian ministry that puts needy kids from around the world together with sponsors.
And with the money coming in, they began to see the possibilities.
Jones was at school writing a paper when his friends started the video experiment.
“I got home and they were all hovering around this video. It showed them shooting these long shots, and they had just put a song to it,” he recalled. “The next day, I said, ‘Let’s go to the park and see what we can do there.’ We filmed the second part of the video then, and within a week, we’d had 100,000 hits on YouTube.
“Networking today,” Jones said, “is just ridiculous.”
Soon, they had a call from Good Morning America and did an interview. The wheels were turning.
“We started thinking, ‘What if we planned the shots?’ We brainstormed. We made a big list. And then we went to Tyler’s ranch near Waco and spent the whole day shooting video,” Jones said.
There were shots from the stock pond – one with the shooter rising from total immersion, the other with the shot taken from a body board, pulled by an ATV. For one shot, the ball rolled up and over the barn roof before dropping neatly through the hoop. Another came from on high – from atop a water tower. In a third, Toney used the kick from a shotgun to power the ball through the basket.
They took the show to Sky Ranch, a Christian summer ranch in Van, for “the camp version,” Toney said.
And finally, for what is the ultimate shot (so far), Toney climbed to the third deck of Kyle Field, Texas A&M’s 82,600-seat football stadium, and dropped a shot cleanly through the net some 70 yards away.
Not that it was the first shot, of course.
People who watch the Dude Perfect videos often wonder whether the shots are faked. No way, the dudes say.
“We figure it takes 10 to 15 shots on average to make one, obviously depending on the shot,” Toney said. “But we have made a lot on the first try, too.”
At Kyle Field, for the video billed as the “World’s Longest Basketball Shot,” well, they didn’t keep count.
“For one thing, we had an assembly line thing” to get the ball back to the third deck, Toney said. “But it did take us about 30 minutes of filming to do it.”
All of the guys played high school basketball. Jones was a member of Plano’s state champion team in 2006. So they are all pretty good shots.
But Toney was also a quarterback, at Prosper High. And when it comes time to make a 200-foot shot at Kyle Field, he’s the guy with the arm strength and technique to get the ball to the basket. It’s a handy skill as the dudes try to keep things fresh.
“We just try to keep putting out stuff that’s better than our last one,” Toney said.
“We don’t want to go downhill. But that’s definitely getting harder.”