The Drew League may be a nationally recognized symbol of LA basketball, but just east of Los Angeles County lies the overlooked region of the Inland Empire. For residents of the I.E., living in LA’s shadow can be frustrating, giving them a world-class chip on their shoulders and a burning desire to make a name for themselves, even if they have to upset the balance to do it.
No Shnacks is the Drew’s resident Inland Empire team and they fully intend to live up to that reputation. Coached by Gary Clark, the team approaches every game like a chance to snatch away the attention they feel—rightly or wrongly—has been withheld from them as the only team from a near proximity to LA, but outside the bounds of the Drew’s home city.
“The term ‘No Shnacks’ was born circa 2007 in the dorms of Morehouse College Atlanta, GA,” Clark explains. “It came to be known as a term for not letting anyone get over on you or hate on you without being met with proper recourse.” In other words, it means nothing comes easy. It’s a philosophy that has come to define Clark’s coaching style, and in turn, his team’s personality.
In recent seasons, they’ve become one of the teams to fear at the Drew, as their fiery competitiveness and underdog mentality makes them dangerous to any team that approaches them lightly. Led by shooting guards Marvelle Harris and Sean Marshall, they are prone to scoring outbursts that can turn a deficit into a lead quicker than you can say “Riverside.”
“My entire team is special,” Clark beams. “I make it a point to have hungry, talented, hard-working players that have a chip on their shoulder with something to prove.”
This feisty attitude led them deep into last year’s playoffs, where they lost in the semifinals to eventual champions Redemption. Clark attributes their recent success to the addition of Sean Marshall.
“I knew a few years ago that for No Shnacks to become an elite team, we needed to add Sean,” he says. “Sean is the glue on and off the court.”
This year, though, they’ve also bolstered their gritty outlook and us-against-the-world determination with an infusion of athletic young talent. Chino Hills prospects Onyeka Okongwu and LaMelo Ball joined No Shnacks on their latest incursion into the “hostile” Charles Drew High School Gym, racking up some impressive stats and bringing out the crowds to see the hotly-tipped young guards show off their emerging skills ahead of the upcoming high school season.
Where once No Shnacks were the overlooked, underrated outsiders, now they are the ones receiving all the accolades and attention that they missed out on in previous seasons. But that doesn’t mean they are by any means satisfied.
“The fact that I’ve never won a championship keeps me hungry and motivated,” Clark explains. “Winning won’t change that, it would just allow me to view competition from a different angle… an angle I’m more than overdue for.” It’s clear that No Shnacks want nothing less than the championship and for what might be the first time, they look like they have the means to earn it.