Garrett Temple and Joe Harris Team Up for Hoops2o Initiative

When Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon launched his Hoops2o initiative, he started close to home with some of his former University of Virginia teammates in putting together what he called his “Starting 5.” But by happenstance, three of those charter members ended up teammates together this season in Brooklyn.

Joe Harris, Garrett Temple, and Justin Anderson all signed on, along with Brogdon and Portland’s Anthony Tolliver, to get the program rolling. The mission is to provide clean drinking water to areas in East Africa. It’s an offshoot of the Waterboys program founded by former NFL player Chris Long, who also played at Virginia.

“Malcolm is very passionate about it. He had spent some time in Africa growing up,” said Harris. “He had seen the need for clean drinking water and it had a pretty profound impact on him. He talked to Justin and I about it. Originally, he threw the idea out to Chris. And then one thing led to another. Justin and I were I think the first guys to get on board with it him from an NBA standpoint. And then he got Garrett and Anthony Tolliver. That was the original, I guess, starting five if you will, and now it’s up to nine guys.”

The expanded group includes Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, Milwaukee’s Donte DiVincenzo, Detroit’s Tim Frazier, and two more recent Virginia players, Kyle Guy and De’Andre Hunter. They’ve even recruited their college coach, Tony Bennett, as the Hoops2o Head Coach. Through social media and initiatives and in-person events like a meet-and-greet Harris and Temple did earlier this year, they generate contributions toward the goal.

“Each guy they have a goal where they, to build a well, it costs $45,000 and each guy their fund-raising goal is 45K,” said Harris. “Everybody sets out to raise 45 individually, and then you get five wells. We raised over a quarter of a million dollars last year. You hold different fundraisers, different events just to help raise money and awareness, and then we all contribute ourselves as well.”

Harris, Anderson and Brogdon crossed over at Virginia, where they were all teammates for two seasons in 2012-13 and 2013-14, although Brogdon redshirted in 2012-13 as he recovered from an injury. He and Anderson played one more season together after Harris graduated.

Last summer, the three of them traveled to Africa for a week to get a first-hand look at the communities in need.

“We had a day or so of safari while we were out there, but the rest of the time we were visiting project sites,” said Harris. “We want to the first well that we had funded and we saw the impact that it had on the community. It helped provide clean drinking water for 15,000 people.”

“It was away from basketball, away from social media,” said Anderson, who was recently with the Brooklyn Nets on a 10-day contract and has since been acquired by the Long Island Nets for their G League roster. “We just got the opportunity to go out there and bond and being able to take in Tanzania and some of its sights, Kilimanjaro. It was an unbelievable opportunity for me personally, because perspective is everything. I didn’t know anything about Africa. I didn’t do any research before I went. Obviously you know it’s a ton of history and lineage, but learning the history books, until you go see for yourself you don’t really understand it. That was just an unbelievable opportunity for me. Now we’re just trying to continue to raise money to continue to help bring more clean water to Africa.”

Temple didn’t have the UVA connection, but the veteran is highly respected throughout the league and is a vice president with the National Basketball Players Association. He wasn’t with Brooklyn when Brogdon first approached him before the 2018-19 season, but signed with the Nets last season and found himself sharing a locker room with Harris and, eventually, Anderson.

“I’ve been to Africa three times now, when I was young twice and then again to South Africa two summers ago,” said Temple. “I wasn’t surprised when I heard about the issue. I know clean water is an issue in Africa, but that specific area, not aware of how bad it was. And I didn’t know how much a well cost. What Chris started is really amazing. We’re just happy to be a part of it.”