A group of Wichita State University students has invented a way for young basketball players to improve their shooting.
The Boost Hoop is a funnel that attaches to the top of a basketball hoop. It requires players to put more arc on their shots while also improving accuracy and confidence.
The hoop was designed by the Boosted Ideas Lab and recently won the Shocker New Venture Competition. The four students on the winning team are Logan Cassity, Andrew Haden, Isaac Wilson and Jason DeGarmo.
DeGarmo credits WSU Athletic Director Darron Boatright for inspiring the idea.
While DeGarmo was working WSU Ventures — the technology transfer office for the university — Boatright brought the idea to his attention.
"He said, ‘We just need a tool for the younger basketball player to make it easier to score so they keep playing the game for longer,’ " DeGarmo said.
While youth leagues often play with smaller basketballs or lower the height of the basket to make it easier for kids to score, the rim size has remained the same.
“Seven-year-olds are still shooting on the same size rim as LeBron James,” DeGarmo said. “That doesn’t really make sense.”
DeGarmo said the hoop started out as a basketball encouragement tool, but he later realized it also makes a player shoot higher. He said that’s a critical shooting skill for any player.
“What the Boost Hoop does, it is a funnel so it doubles the scoring area,” he said. “It sits about four and a half inches above the rim. It gets you in an up-and-over mentality to where it’s like, ‘Oh, just let me shoot the ball a little bit higher.' "
DeGarmo filed a provisional patent application in 2017. In October 2018, he filed a 30-page non-provisional patent application, something he learned to do while working at WSU Ventures.
He then began to assemble his team for the Shocker New Venture Competition, which is sponsored by the school's Center for Entrepreneurship. He started with Haden as operations manager before Cassity joined the team in January, taking on the group’s finances. Then in February, DeGarmo brought on Wilson as CEO.
As the competition’s winners, the team was awarded $8,500 in seed-funding cash and a one-year membership to GoCreate for prototyping and building the hoops.
“Our mission and our vision for this is to revolutionize basketball and spark love for the game," DeGarmo said. "We just really want to make basketball more accessible and more exciting for anyone and everyone of any skill level."
Audrey Korte is an intern in the KMUW News Lab.