Lee Sartor is on vacation this week.
The head coach at Spartanburg Day School is coaching in the Beach Ball Classic, but that’s his part-time job.
In order to be at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, he’s on vacation from his full-time job as a deputy with the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office.
That job takes 45 to 60 hours of his week. Coaching Spartanburg Day has become another job that requires overtime hours.
Having the most recruited player in the country will do that. Because of 6-7 senior Zion Williamson, who is missing the Beach Ball because of injury, Sartor has become part of the competitive recruiting circus that surrounds the nation’s top players. Williamson is wanted by everybody, including Kansas’ Bill Self, Kentucky’s John Calipari and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski.
“It can be overwhelming, but having an opportunity to meet coach Calipari and Coach K and Bill Self and all those guys, having an opportunity to talk to Clemson and South Carolina and UCLA, it’s been a real joy,” Sartor said. “But I keep it in perspective. I understand once Zion makes a decision on where he’s going to go and play his college basketball career at, more than likely I won’t be able to call these guys like I can now.”
Sartor played basketball at USC Upstate and coached Spartanburg Day from 2003-09. He left for a few years and returned in time to coach Williamson over the past five seasons.
“I always had a passion for it and had an opportunity to coach in high school and took advantage of it,” Sartor said. “I love coaching and love my law enforcement job as well so I’ve got the best of both worlds.
“Having an opportunity to coach this team gives me an opportunity to work with kids away from dealing with some of the people at their worst in my law enforcement capacity. It’s an opportunity to work with young people and to help them reach their goals and become achievers.”
Sartor said a former player approached him at the convention center who is now an attorney in Myrtle Beach. “That’s why I do it,” he said. “I do it because I want to see these kids make it in life and have a better life for themselves.”
So he’s riding out the Zion Williamson run as long as it lasts, no matter how many hours it takes.
“I’ve probably got every major college coach’s cell phone number in my phone and I enjoy talking with them, and it’s very enjoyable coaching a kid like Zion Williamson,” Sartor said. “You never can predict what’s happened with Zion Williamson, you can only appreciate it and keep things in perspective.
“He’s a great basketball and it doesn’t surprise me what’s happening to him because he’s even a better person. I think that’s why people are so attracted to him.”
A national audience
A total of 20 games over the five days of the Beach Ball Classic are being broadcast to a national audience on Stadium, a new multi-platform sports network that was founded in April.
Lucky Dog Television Productions of Conway owner Donald Smith has the Beach Ball broadcast rights, and said he has a contract through 2020 with Stadium.
Stadium is available in more than 60 markets across the U.S. as a television network, and it is also available free to viewers at WatchStadium.com, the Stadium iOS and tvOS apps, Stadium Android app, Twitter (@WatchStadium) and Pluto TV Channel 207.
It can be found locally on HTC local channel 4, cable channels 1261 (Charter) and Channel 53 (Frontier), on WWMB Channel 21-3 in Myrtle Beach and Florence, and in Columbia on 57-2 (WACH-2).
The 20 televised games include four games a day for five days consisting of the winner bracket games totaling 15 games, a game at 1:45 Friday, and four games leading up to the championship game on Saturday.
Lucky Dog Productions controls the broadcast from its on-site production truck, with the exception of some commercial breaks set up for Stadium to run its own ads.
“To have this type of national coverage for five days from 3:30 to about 10:30, you see from Visit Myrtle Beach to Ocean Lakes Campground and the City of Myrtle Beach and the sponsors, just think about how many times all that is shown,” Smith said. “I don’t know across this country if any other tournament puts this type of production on with this many games. I don’t think anybody does.”
On-air talent for the games includes play-by-play announcers Allen Smothers, Tyler Watkins, Layne Harris and Mike Hogewood, and analysts Van Coleman, Russ Bergman, Tommy Gaither, Kevin Schneider, Ashley Smith, Ian Guerin, Colin Stevens, Stacey Palmore and Wayne Gray.
Stadium was founded in April as a venture involving Sinclair Broadcast Group, Silver Chalice and 120 Sports, and is distributed through Sinclair, which previously owned American Sports Network, which aired Beach Ball games last year.
The 24-hour network moves between live games and events, highlights, classic game reruns, original programming, and daily live studio programming featuring news, analysis and opinion.