Sports Analytics in the Classroom: How One Computer Science Professor is Changing the Game


By 2022, the sports analytics market is expected to skyrocket to $4 billion. While top international companies are fighting for industry supremacy, an assistant professor of computer science at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C. is poised to make her own big impact on the data-charged future of sports.

Dr. Felesia Stukes differentiates herself from traditional computer scientists by putting storytelling at the center of her work. “That’s what makes data science so unique,” she says. “You can’t just throw numbers at your target audience. That’s statistics. You have to be able to tell a story with the data.” And she believes—correctly—that students across different majors at JCSU stand to benefit from having a data science skill set.

When Dr. Stukes attended the National Society of Blacks in Computing Conference in the summer of 2017, she discovered the perfect tech tool for making data science accessible to one and all: ShotTracker, a sensor-based system beloved by D1 college basketball programs that instantly delivers 70+ real-time stats and analytics to an easy-to-use-app. Featuring shot charts and zone maps, ShotTracker makes telling stories about data that enhance team performance and drive competition easy.

Dr. Stukes immediately recognized ShotTracker’s educational potential, envisioning the system as the cornerstone of a new data science minor at JCSU. Now, supported by a prestigious grant from the National Science Foundation, Dr. Stukes, along with seven hand-picked JCSU students, aka “The DATA Bulls,” are turning her pioneering vision into reality with a ShotTracker-powered pilot program designed to take computer science out of the classroom and into the real world.

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