How’s the Basketball Up There?

Meet Sloan Ireland, a 6’10” hooper set to take over PSAL Basketball!

Reading Time: 5 minutes

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By Zifei Zhao

Name: Sloan Ireland

Grade: Senior

Height: 6’10”

Hair Color: Brown

Eye Color: Blue

Date of Birth: 08/01/2005

Shoe Size: Size 19 Men’s

When and how did you start playing basketball? How long have you been on the ​Storm, the Stuyvesant varsity basketball team?

I started playing basketball around fourth or fifth grade. I’ve always been tall, so I played in the park during recess and in casual leagues. I always took my height for granted, which allowed me to score more points, and carried my basketball games until about sixth or seventh grade. But as everyone started to catch up skill-wise—and I had not necessarily been training my skills—I never made my middle school team [or the team at Stuyvesant during my] freshman year. I was a super uncoordinated person, and I could barely dribble or shoot the ball. I didn’t even make JV as a freshman at Stuyvesant, but then COVID hit, and I really started training and getting better. I ended up going straight to varsity as a sophomore, and from there, I continued on the team [throughout] my junior and senior years.

What position do you play? What skills/strengths are involved?

As the tallest guy on the team, I play center. My main job is rebounder and rim protector. If somebody has gotten by, I’m the last line of defense. When we’re playing a zone, I try to move to someone on the opposing team who is driving the ball by blocking their shot because I am so tall, and [I] also use my height to my advantage to get rebounds.

Do you have a most memorable/proud moment with the ​​Storm?

As of now, I would say one of the moments I felt the proudest [of] was last year on senior night—our last home game of the season. We were playing against Normand Thomas, and they were playing an extremely strong game, so with just six seconds left on the clock, we were down by two. I made a buzzer-beater to force overtime, where we eventually won. We also made playoffs for the first time in five years that season. But I would say this year, my game is a lot different and the team is so much stronger, so I think my favorite moment with the Storm is coming into this season because we are going to go incredibly far.

What is it like being so tall, not just in basketball, but also in your personal life?

For me, it’s almost normal at this point. But every couple of days someone on the subway will ask, “How tall are you?” I’ve been blessed with this height, and it gives me a presence on the basketball court and when I walk into a room, so I use that to my advantage to benefit others.

How do you think the Stuyvesant basketball team has changed you as an athlete/person?

I would say it has shifted my mentality. If you want something, you have to put your mind to it––you can’t just expect things to come to you. My height only carried me so far and it hit me hard when I didn’t make JV as a freshman because I really wanted to play organized basketball at this school. Making the team and being on it has taught me the importance of hard work and working on yourself to improve. Also, playing at Stuyvesant has really taught me about time management. Stuyvesant is such an academically stressful school, and we practice or play games six days a week for two to three hours after school. Often, I’m not getting home until 8:00 p.m. most nights, and I’ve had to learn to manage my time, so that’s been something that has been really helpful. And as captain, there’s a sense of responsibility for me since I want to lead this team as far as I can, and there’s a degree of sacrifice that I like to think that I make in terms of that.

Do you have any plans to continue the sport in the future or in college?

It was only recently that I decided that I wanted to play basketball in college. Because of COVID, colleges are looking for guys who can transfer from other colleges because they would rather have a player with more experience. So getting recruited out of high school at any level—D1, D2, or D3—is very difficult, especially at an academically prestigious college. I do have at least one D3 offer to play basketball—I am just waiting for other college decisions. So, I will be playing basketball in college. I am just not sure where yet.

Do you have any pregame superstitions or rituals?

I don’t have superstitions really—I am not that type of guy. I just know what I need. I make sure I always get the same lunch on game day from Cuisine K, a cart past Whole Foods, so I am fueled. I try to get good sleep the day before, so I am not tired. I come ready to play.

Do you have a specific free throw routine? What is it?

I spin the ball once in my left hand, bring it back to my right, and then put the ball in a triple-threat position. I do three dribbles and then go into my shooting motion.

What is your jersey number? What made you decide on that number?

I joined the team as a sophomore and I was given the number 21. I didn’t choose it, but it was my first number for organized sports, so it was special to me. Those jerseys were red and white. But when we switched to the OG colors, blue and white, the 21 jersey was not in my size. The only jersey in my size was 15, so I was forced to switch.

What are the best and worst parts of basketball?

Basketball is a fun sport. I wouldn’t trade it for anything since basketball is my life. But it is grueling, and you have to put in a ton of work. We play in a division where even though our team is super skilled, there are so many players who are quicker and more naturally athletically gifted. So we have to do a lot of running [and] staying in shape, and it definitely hurts at times.

What are your short-term and long-term goals going into the season?

Currently, we are 4-0, and we have had two huge wins against Seward Park and Bayard Rustin, historically ranked second and third in our division. We need at least six wins to make the playoffs, and we are definitely going to get that. So short term, our realistic goal is to go 10-2 this season, only losing to Murry Bergtraum twice, who is the team to beat. It would be great if we do win those games though. Long term, I want to go as far as we can in playoffs. We have a really gifted group of guys this year, and we have multiple underclassmen who can come off the bench and make great contributions on the court, so I think we can really go for it this year.

Funniest Teammates: Adam Sherer and Emerson Gelobter

Favorite Professional Basketball Player: Shaquille O’Neal

Favorite NBA Team: New York Knicks

Playing on Full or Light Stomach: Full Stomach

Favorite Sports Drink: Gatorade

Favorite Post-Game Snack: McDonald’s One Dollar Large Fries

Favorite Hobby: Ball is life.

If You Could Play One Other Sport: Rugby

Basketball Shoe Brand: Adidas