Trick-shot teen on his way to being ‘The Happiest Person in the World’

Salty Dog founder Connor Buckner, a student at Marcos de Niza High School, shows off one of the shots that have brought his group virtually overnight fame.

They are the Salty Dogs. Armed with a hard-work ethic and an abundance of talent, they are becoming one of the most popular shows in Arizona.

The group has developed quite a following by executing creative trick basketball shots. There are half-court shots, shots made from diving boards, shots made from the top of buildings and other tricks that have left fans wanting more.

The group is two months old and it has already developed a large gathering. South Tempe resident and Marcos de Niza junior, Connor Buckner founded the group. In a short time, he has watched the group grow into something special. Their YouTube page, , has become a hit.

“We had three subscribers (when we started),” Buckley said. “Right now we have 250 subscribers and we’ve been viewed over 12,000 times.”

The subscribers and views are just the beginning. The group is gaining popularity and attracting attention. But before there were admirers, before there were tricks—before there was even a group—there was a kitchen table.

Buckley and his friend Nick Palomares were sitting in the kitchen when they came up with the idea to form a trick-shot basketball team. They created a plan. The only thing they didn’t have was a name.

“We kept going through names like ‘Arizona’s Amazing Trick Shots,’ but nothing had a ring to it,” Buckley said.

One day Buckley found the perfect solution. He was listening to a group of kids converse when he heard something that caught his ear. It was something that would stick.

“Someone got out and we heard them yell, ‘ You Salty Dog,’”Buckley recalled. “And we wanted that to be the name of our trick-shot group.”

Everything took off from there. They formed the Salty Dogs group, added new members and quickly began filming their tricks. Before they knew it, they were catching the eyes of their peers. They were getting noticed on the street.

Buckley remembers being out, wearing his Salty Dogs hat, when someone approached him.

“They said, ‘Wait, are you one of those kids that do those amazing shots?’” Buckley said.

The person said they really enjoyed their videos. It made Buckley feel great.

“It was really awesome,” he said. “It made me feel like I was doing something right.”

The group works on their shots three to four times a week. Some tricks take 10 minutes to execute. Other take up to an hour. Buckley said some of his favorite accomplishments have been a half-court shot, a kick shot from the top of a hill that measured 100 feet, and a shot off the sixth story of a parking garage.

That shot, Buckley said, the best.

“I was so excited,” he said. “I was at the top and all these cars are driving by, and I was just screaming.”

The group, comprised of Buckley, David Paderez, Alex Beaver and Chad and Taylor Ahrensdorf, work hard just about every day to perfect their craft. This is what they love to do. They love to entertain. They love to impress. They love to have fun.

The Salty Dogs would like to one-day do promotional videos around the city. Their ultimate goal, Buckley said, is to become partners at YouTube, where they are paid to execute their trick shots and film them for the world to see. Buckley said he doesn’t want this to be a hobby. He wants this to be a lifestyle.

“This is what I plan to do with my life. This is what I love to do,” he said. “People tell me I’m dreaming, thinking I can make a living off of this. But that’s why I put the time in every week. I just love doing this. If I could make a living doing this, I’d be the happiest person in the world.”


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