With his invention The Touch Glove, former Philadelphia schoolboy legend and UCLA guard Andre McCarter has now joined an elite group of African-American world-class athletes known for becoming creators. McCarter, who played his high school ball at famed Overbrook High, takes pride in knowing he can be included in the same sentence with Jack Johnson and Meredith “Flash” Gourdine.
“It’s a nice feeling,” said McCarter. “It’s an honor.”
McCarter’s invention, patented in 1999, improves hand dexterity and control through the fingers and is good enough to have him listed on About.com’s database of African-American inventors. He’s sandwiched between Jan Matzeliger, who developed a machine to make shoes, and Elijah McCoy, an engineer who is credited with 57 patents. Many of McCoy’s patents were related to lubricating steam engines.
“That’s pretty good company,” said McCarter. “Being listed with those guys is [a] tremendous [honor].”
The Touch Glove, which McCarter says can be used in basketball, football and baseball, helps develop fundamentals. For example, he notices how many young basketball players haven’t been taught the proper form to shoot.
“Sometimes, it is so difficult to see players shoot,” he said. “You see them shooting, and you know that you can make a change that will help them.”
That’s where McCarter’s invention comes in. He believes the secret to being a great shooter is in the fingertips. The Touch Glove helps to develop greater dexterity and thus, a shooter will have better control over a basketball.
According to USA Basketball, NBA basketballs are 29.5 inches in circumference while the WNBA’s basketballs have a maximum circumference of 29 inches. Both are inflated to between 7.5 pounds and 8.5 pounds per square inch.
By comparison, NCAA men’s basketballs have a maximum circumference of 30 inches, and the seams must be no wider than 1/4 inch, with a weight of about 22 ounces. NCAA women’s basketballs are a maximum of 29 inches in circumference, with a maximum weight of 20 ounces and seams no wider than 1/4 inch.
“Everything begins with the fingers,” said McCarter. “To properly control a ball, you need your fingers. It controls everything, not the hand. Think about it.”
Slowly dribble a ball. The last thing touching the ball before it hits any surface are the fingertips, which control the ball’s ultimate direction.
The Touch Glove doesn’t allow the ball to rest in the palms of a player’s hand. By doing so, the glove allows players to improve, learn and understand fundamentals better.
Milwaukee Bucks head coach Jason Kidd and his assistant Greg Foster can vouch for the effectiveness of The Touch Glove.
“I haven’t used it of late, but I think it’s a great device,” said Kidd, a 19-year NBA veteran who was also a 10-time NBA All-Star. “It can only help you get better in learning the game.”
Foster, who was recruited to UCLA by McCarter, agrees.
“It’s been quite some time since I’ve used it, but it helped me,” said Foster, a 13-year NBA veteran who has been an assistant coach with the Bucks for the past three years. “Touch is the big thing. It’s all about the fingertips. It definitely improved my shooting and ball-handling. If I was guy looking to shoot the ball now, I’d get a pair.”
McCarter said former NBA star Chris Webber also used the invention.
“It helped them,” said McCarter. “There have been others who have used it and the results have been favorable.”
As a prep player, there weren’t many better than McCarter. He was a two-time All-America selection and with the help of some shrewd recruiting by Walt Hazzard, another Overbrook High product, McCarter went to UCLA to play for legendary coach John Wooden.
Wooden changed McCarter’s game, converting him from a scorer to a facilitator. McCarter was the Bruins’ starting point guard for two years. In 1975, his junior year, he helped lead the Wooden-coached Bruins to their 10th straight NCAA championship.
He also broke the NCAA single-game assists record in a championship game with 14. As a collegian, he averaged 6.9 points, 1.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists.
He played professionally with the Kansas City Kings and the Washington Bullets. He also played in the Continental Basketball Association and overseas before settling down in Los Angeles. He was part of Hazzard’s coaching staff at UCLA.
“The game has changed so much,” said McCarter. “There are a lot of things that go into becoming a good shooter. The fundamentals are essential. If a player doesn’t have good fundamentals, it can be difficult for him to improve. That’s a problem with many players today.”
McCarter’s invention may be able to correct that problem. And he’s got other ingenious plans he’s working on.
“We’re getting ready to revamp our marketing strategy with The Touch Glove, said McCarter. “We’re expanding into biotechnology, going into another dimension with it and some other things that we are working on.
“When I was a player, my asset was the management of the game. We [African-Americans] own nothing in the sporting goods industry. We’ve got Michael Jordan. He has Jumpman. If you eliminate that, can you name another [black manufacturer] in the sporting goods industry? … If someone white had my product, we’d be off to the races. I’m not angry.
“It’s tough [being an inventor] because we don’t get the opportunities as some others. People don’t always look at athletes as being the smartest people. My ideas are visionary. I’m thinking of the future. That’s where my mind is.”