Evan Schlee is a basketball lifer.
The 2015 Stewartville graduate played for the Tigers in high school. But when New Prague tripped up Stewartville 68-63 in the first round of the Section 1AAA tournament, Schlee’s career came to a close.
His life without basketball seemed incomplete.
Schlee works as a clinical assistant at Mayo Clinic, but he missed the game. He had to find a way to stick around it.
Videography was Schlee’s answer. It quickly became his way of reuniting with basketball. As Schlee looked around the area, he noticed the amount of talent that southeastern Minnesota basketball had. Game highlights and feature stories were cool, but Schlee wanted to do something different.
So, he created King Of The Courts. He wanted to edit videos together of local basketball players and post them on social media.
“We didn’t have this when I was in high school,” Schlee said. “I would’ve loved this. I watched so many Ball Is Life videos, but we never had that here. We have enough talent in this area. We need someone to fill this space. Why not me?”
Schlee connected with Rochester Mayo twins Gabe and Mason Madsen and point guard Mohamed Hammadelniel. They were all for the idea.
Schlee slipped into Rochester Mayo High School in late September and made videos of the three Spartans.
It took him five hours to edit and produce one 59-second video.
But Schlee posted it on Instagram and it got more than 4,000 views.
“That was the start,” Schlee said.
Once basketball season got going, Schlee started to attend three games per week. The popularity of his videos has grown and grown, to the point where King Of The Courts now has more than 3,000 followers on Instagram. A few of Schlee’s Twitter videos have closed in on 10,000 views.
“The players love it,” Schlee said. “I discovered that basketball and videography could go hand in hand. Once I saw how much the players liked it and that the videos were getting a decent amount of attention, I knew I had something there. It’s not huge right now by any means, but I could tell that it’s something Rochester needed but never had.”
Schlee’s timing was almost impeccable. The talent in southeastern Minnesota is through the roof right now.
Almost every night, there was a new highlight-reel play that Schlee was able to capture. He had a front-row seat to Caledonia star Eli King’s aerial displays.
Stewartville and Lake City had a tremendous battle this season, and Schlee was right there to capture the energy of the moment as Will Tschetter and Nate Heise traded big bucket after big bucket.
The connection he established with the Madsen twins was legitimate. He made video after video of the Mayo squad including its battles with Jack Fisher and the Century Panthers.
Schlee featured Austin’s Agwa Nywesh’s elite athleticism, John Marshall’s Jacob Daing’s all-around excellence and Lourdes’ superstars Colin Meade and Alyssa Ustby.
“I couldn’t have picked a better year to start this,” Schlee said. “There were literally so many great games this year. Lake City, Mayo, Caledonia, Stewartville. Any of those games, you’re getting super exciting highlights. So many other games were awesome. It was the perfect year to start.”
Schlee isn’t getting paid to do the job. It’s a side gig for a reason. He just loves basketball. He’s continued to invest in newer and better lenses to help make his job easier and the videos better. King Of The Courts has helped Schlee reconnect with the game that he loves.
But his main goal is to help the terrific athletes in the area.
“I really hope that one of my videos can help a kid get noticed and helps them get a scholarship,” Schlee said. “That’d be a life-changing thing for them. Obviously, it’s nice to hear that they appreciate the videos. But I really want to help them out. That’s why I keep doing this.”
This offseason, Schlee hasn't quit working. He's been out to Caledonia to do a video on King. He's done more videos on Heise and the Madsen brothers. Former Lourdes coach David Norris has led scrimmages featuring the Madsen boys, the King boys, Tschetter and Ustby. Schlee's been there to document it. He can't get enough of his new-found love.
When sports come back, Schlee is going to be on the sidelines yet again, shooting and creating videos that showcase local talent.
Schlee needed a basketball fix. He’s found his passion and his true love.
King Of The Courts is here to stay.