116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Tristan Spurlock has traveled the world thanks to basketball.
Now he has landed in Eastern Iowa.
Born in Washington, D.C., in 1991, Spurlock was named Virginia Mr. Basketball in 2009. The first recruit for Virginia Coach Tony Bennett, Spurlock joined the Cavaliers for a season before transferring to Central Florida.
“It was a better situation at UCF,” Spurlock said. “I was really able to play and have a good college career.”
After graduating with a degree in communications and a minor in commerce, Spurlock worked out for 10 teams before playing for the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Summer League.
After averaging 10 points and five rebounds for Detroit, Spurlock was invited to training camp with Utah.
Somewhat to Spurlock’s surprise, the Cleveland Cavaliers then drafted the 6-foot-9 swingman in the first round of the D League draft and assigned him to the Canton Charge.
Since then, Spurlock has played in Hungary, Israel, China, Argentina and Mexico and will head to Venezuela to play this September.
“It’s a huge difference, it’s way harder to score overseas,” Spurlock said. “But I’ve been able to feed my family by playing basketball and I love it.”
Spurlock’s family has grown recently after he proposed to Madison McGriff on New Year’s Day 2020, found out she was pregnant in February and then had his season shut down in March.
With McGriff living and working in Chicago and Spurlock’s season in Mexico shut down, the couple made a decision.
“Her mother lived in Iowa City, so we moved in with her from March to August,” Spurlock said. Then he had to head back to Mexico to play ball in the fall.
On Oct. 7, Alaya Rae Annette was born and Tristan flew home for the week to be with his family.
“It was crazy, I was in the middle of my season and she was born on a Wednesday,” Spurlock said. “I was on daddy duty for two days and then I had to fly back on Friday for two months. I’ve learned to maximize the time we have together because she doesn’t know or care that I play basketball. When I’m in the room, that’s daddy time to her.”
Looking for a place to work out during the pandemic, Spurlock was able to settle into a gym in North Liberty, Court 45, that is owned by former Hawkeye basketball player Darryl Moore.
That led to an offseason opportunity.
“Darryl asked me if I wanted to train kids and I said, ‘I don’t know, I’m still in the middle of my career,’” Spurlock said. “He said, ‘I think you’d be great at it,’ and I started with one client. Now I have 16 or 17.”
That allows Spurlock to work out from 8 to 10 a.m., work with clients from noon through the afternoon and then host a pro-run basketball game that includes several area athletes who play in college or overseas, including Iowa’s Patrick McCaffery.
“He’s looking good,” Spurlock said of McCaffery. “He’s going to have a great year.”
McCaffery also has been working with Spurlock late at night on Tristan’s other “offseason opportunity.”
Spurlock originally played in The Basketball Tournament in 2019, with his squad losing in the annual 64-team, single-elimination tournament semifinals. The winning team shares $1 million.
Surlock again is on a squad making a deep run. His team, Florida TNT, defeated No. 1 seed Eberlein Drive in the round of 16 and now stands three victories from the title and the cash, starting with the quarterfinals on Saturday at 11 a.m. on ESPN.
Regardless of the outcome, Spurlock is excited to have found a home in Eastern Iowa. He and Madison moved to Cedar Rapids last week as they prepare for the birth of their second child, a boy, this fall.
“I’ll know when I’m done. Once I don’t have that itch anymore, I won’t do it anymore,” Spurlock said. “That’s why I’m thankful for Court 45. I’m making great money just doing what I love to do. It’s a blessing not only as an option to work out, but where I can train kids in a family atmosphere.”