"I just found a way", Heyer goes from small town to pro
Rob Heyer spoke to participants at the Idaho Showcase about his journey from a small town in Wyoming to playing professionally. His message: Find a way. You are never out of it.
Rob has played professionally in Australia and was also drafted in the fourth round of the NBA G-League by the South Bay Lakers.
image via South Bay Lakers Twitter account
Here is the transcript from Rob's talk. To see a video of his talk, click here to view it through our Facebook page.
First of all, great job. I had lot of fun today watching you guys. I didn’t think it was going to be as intense as it was. I think when we got that 4 on 3 thing going, juices get flowing. It picked up from there. So that’s the level you guys showed us. You guys showed us you can do that. You showed us you can talk; you showed us you can have fun. So anything below that is not the standard, right? So tomorrow, all of us coaches; we saw that, we expect that. From here on out you guys can take that to high schools and all that stuff, good job.
I just wanted to quickly share with you guys my story because like coach Blaine said it’s a little bit random, unorthodox, but the real message is, I just found a way. If I can inspire you guys to find a way, just one of you, then I think that’s a good thing.
So first of all I started out at really small [high school] school in Wyoming. There’s five thousand people in my hometown. Graduated in a class of like ninety-six kids, so super small town. I was successful there but again it was a small place so it wasn’t a lot of competition. Out of high school after that AAU tournament I had zero college scholarship offers. Zero. In my eyes, I was the best player in Wyoming. In my class and I had zero scholarship offers.
I drove to Sheridan [Wyoming] over the mountain to a junior college, which is one of the best junior colleges in the country and I just begged the coach, “hey give me a shot, just let me try out”. So he says okay that’s fine, come back and you can play open gym with our guys. It’s not even a tryout. It’s like “hey we happen to be playing on a Tuesday afternoon; come in, we will throw you in there and see how you do”.
So I drive with my own money. I drive over the mountain two and a half hours, get to Sheridan, tryout for Sheridan Junior College. That was my only… I wanted to play college basketball, at that time that was my only option. So I played open gym. I do okay, felt I could fit in there and the coach says, yeah, you are from Wyoming. And in Wyoming we get basically free school anyway, so he says I will give you two hundred and fifty dollar a semester. I got a five hundred dollar scholarship for a year at a junior college. I was basically going there for free. I was a walk on at a junior college.
So I walk in there, I am not expected to play. Throughout the course of the season, just like coach Blaine said, I do what I had to do. It’s amazing how hard work, every single day, consistent hard work gets you somewhere.
Who said the phrase today that if you don’t bring it every single day you are not a winner? You guys heard that from the coach. I brought it every single day just because I knew I wasn’t as athletic. I’m as talented as these guys I was playing with. I brought it every single day and through the course of a month, two months, the whole season and two years at Sheridan. It paid off.
So my first year at Sheridan; I played a little bit, got in, did some good things. My second year I was the second highest… I had the second highest field goal percentage in the country. As a six four white dude. I was second in the nation in field goal percentage. Started all these games. All my teammates were getting division one offers. They were big time recruits. They were all going D-1. I am starting and I am thinking yeah I might have a shot here.
I had zero division one scholarship offers going out of the JUCO.
So again, for the second time, I am thinking man I don’t know what I am going to do now. I wanted to go to a JUCO; barely got there. And now I want to go to another four year school and no one is knocking on my door. Nobody.
So I got hold of all these division two schools and said hey I want to keep playing, what have you got for me? I ended up going to a division two school in Texas for one year, hated it. Alright, we can forget that part. Hated it.
Now my family moves to Boise, Idaho. I said I don’t know if I am going to play basketball, so I am just going to move to Boise, go to Boise State, I will see what I can do. Maybe I can, some of the coaches at Boise State, I said hey, again for the third time, give me a shot. Just let me be a walk on. That’s fine and through the family thing like I could get a lot of my school paid for just by academics and being in state resident and just like that.
So I asked the coach. I said hey, let me walk on. And he says alright, you can walk on. But because I went to a D-2, I had to sit out a whole year. I got one year of eligibility left: I went two year at JUCO, one year at D-2, I got one year of eligibility left, but I had to sit out a year for NCAA penalty.
That year I get hurt, screwed up my ankle. Now the entire year, October all the way to March, I am in a boot. I can’t do anything. I can’t practice, nothing. In my head it’s like I am a walk on, I got one year left, this year I am going to take my redshirt year, I am going to practice, I am going to show these guys. I talked about that consistent hard work. They will notice. I will have a year to do it.
Now I screw up my ankle. I don’t even get to practice. The funny story is which Chad knows is, the head coach didn’t know my name because I was in a boot. I was sitting on a sideline the whole year.
I was there for an entire year and the head coach didn’t know my name.
As a player I was thinking man, there is absolutely no way I am going to be successful at Boise State. But when I got healthy what did I do? Consistent hard work. And over the course of less than two months I was starting games at Boise State.
And I don’t say this to toot my own horn. I say it because it’s a testament that any of you guys can do it. If you consistently work hard, you are going to be successful, no matter what it is; basketball, or whatever and it starts right now. I had never… the only thing … the only opportunity I got to show people that I can play in college was that tournament that I went to with coach Blaine. Other than that no one knew who I was and I was the best player in Wyoming. But I just kept finding a way. I wanted it bad enough that if I showed people consistently that I brought it every single day, good things happen, great things happen. Now I am playing professionally in Australia. From a guy that had zero scholarships coming out of high school to now it’s my job to be a basketball player. I mean I can’t tell you how proud I am to say that. And I can’t tell you how big of an opportunity it is for you guys. You guys are … trust me you guys are far more skilled, far more exposed than I ever was. You are ahead of my curve. If you take anything … if you can take a small percentage of what I did and use it, trust me you guys will be successful.
So take what you want out of that. Like I said the real message is to just find a way. Be consistent, there is always a way. Find a way, you are never out of it.