A hands-on father, black business owner, and friend of high-profile clients: Jay Lilley is a happy and successful SnapSports® Southeast Dealer
We sat down for a one-on-one with Jay about all-things-custom basketball courts, family, celebrities, and SnapSports, and it was a slam dunk.
Meet Jay Lilley, our SnapSports Southeastern U.S. Region Dealer. Jay got into the industry in 2014 after a business partner built a full-court backyard custom basketball court for his family. He saw how much fun everyone was having, and said a lightbulb went off. Jay started as a sales rep and later transitioned to Sr. Vice President of Business Development and Marketing.
Today, Jay is the dealer for the SnapSports Southeastern region and CEO of Court Dreams, which he bills on Instagram as the #1 Sports Construction Firm for residential and commercial basketball courts. Jay and his company have designed and built upwards of 300+ courts, including some basketball court installations for memorable clients like NBA Players Lance Stephenson and Josh Smith, NFL player Ben Grubbs, and residential customers Mary Love and Ron Jarvis. Court Dreams is one of the industry’s only black-owned businesses.
We sat down with Jay and asked some questions about SnapSports, celebrity clients, his blended family, indoor basketball court costs, and what he’s planning for future growth. He had some great answers and clear insight for homeowners – and anyone else who wants to build a custom basketball court. He also shares ideas we think other SnapSports dealers will find helpful. It was a fascinating discussion. Here’s what Jay had to say.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in North Carolina, The Tar Heel State. The people there have a deep-rooted love of sports and rich basketball history.
How did playing sports impact your life?
I spent my entire childhood playing basketball. I lived in a disadvantaged neighborhood, and basketball was an escape. It allowed me to dream beyond my zip code. Basketball also taught me discipline, teamwork, and what it takes to win as a cohesive unit. To have a winning season, I learned I had to rely on my abilities as well as teammates’ athleticism and aptitude.
Tell us about your family and how sports keeps you connected.
I’m married to Khadija, who’s the love of my life. We have a blended family of six kids. Yes, SIX! Four boys and two girls ranging from kindergarten to their twenties. A few are into sports, including a sophomore collegiate athlete who plays on the Palm Beach State University basketball team; a teen who plays on his high school basketball team; and a spirited five-year-old who loves basketball and has the confidence of Jordan, a dash of Bryant, the shooting skills of Curry, and the dribbling capabilities of a mini Iverson. I’m hoping one of them will allow my wife and I to retire comfortably (smile). They all make us proud.
I’m a hands-on parent and having one of the country’s most successful sports construction firms has been a blessing because I stay connected to sports through our kids (and vice versa). Another bonus: I’ve built custom courts for notable athletes and celebrities, NBA teams, and public and private basketball facilities.
What’s it like to deal with high-profile customers? Care to share any advice?
I had a few former professional athletes as business partners in other business endeavors, and some of my closest friends are athletes and entertainers. I have insight into their expectations, which has given me a slight advantage. Still, it’s really about providing a quality product that you stand behind, building rapport with your client, and being a reliable, dependable resource. What’s vital is showing respect for any budget, and proving your pricing is fair. I also have expert SnapSports knowledge, and I’m comfortable speaking about our multi-patented products and construction, which wins over clients every time.
How important are building relationships in your business? Is working with pro athletes and entertainers any different?
At SnapSports, we are consultants from ideation to finished product – no matter the client. Many of my friendships and meaningful bonds have just happened organically. The great product attracts many pro athletes and entertainers, but believe it or not, many of my closest friendships have developed merely from working in this industry! For example, Deontay Wilder, the Heavyweight Boxing Champion, is one of my closest friends. Jason Campbell, the former NFL Quarterback, is just “Uncle Jason” to my kids! My first celebrity client was the Grammy-winning recording artist (rapper) and movie star Ludacris. He’s a genuinely down-to-earth guy! (Check out the video of Ludacris rolling out his new courts). And I learned working with Shaquille O’Neal (the famous NBA Champion) that he’s genuine and a smart, smart businessman. Plus, Shaq has a heart of gold.
It sounds like you’re living the dream!
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and I can candidly say Court Dreams and SnapSports has been my most meaningful venture to date. Indoor basketball court costs don’t have to be out of the ballpark for a lot of people. Imagine being a basketball junkie who’s blessed to have a successful business affiliated with basketball on every level! That’s me. I’m fortunate to make a living by designing and building basketball training facilities, courts for residential clients and celebrity clients, and public and private facilities. I even had the honor of being the official court provider of the Atlanta Hawks community courts. I make court dreams come true and I am in heaven!
How about your employees? Are they as excited about SnapSports as you are?
It is a very fun environment for everyone from our front office staff to our installers. We’re a very non-traditional industry, and we work pretty varied schedules. We spend most of our time engaging with homeowners in their backyards or with athletic directors and coaches at their local gyms. It’s an ideal industry for most of us because we work directly with customers and like to be on the go. The most rewarding part of this business is to see the sheer joy on our customers’ faces when their custom basketball court is complete. Knowing they’ll create lasting memories for their families (and players or neighbors or community) is a feeling like no other, and we love being part of that.
What’s it like to be one of the only black business owners in this industry?
It’s a true testament to hard work, perseverance, and vision. My passion for the game of basketball, along with my business acumen, helped me identify a market that is unfortunately under-represented by people of color. When I was young, my mother always told me, “You are only defined by what your mind tells you.” It’s surprising that a sport heavily dominated by elite black athletes has virtually no representation from business owners in the national network.
I’m also proud that we’ve created a brand that’s known for superior craftsmanship and professionalism; that we sell a product with the best athletic surfacing and components in the world. Being a minority-owned company has also afforded a unique connection with customers and celebrity clientele. We’ve had overwhelming support and disrupted a space where few business owners look like me. As a father, my kids see that I’m breaking barriers and eradicating stereotypes, and it’s one of my proudest achievements.
What ideas do you have to keep getting clients and projects?
Never get complacent; there’s always room for improvement. We’re always thinking of ways to improve and “wow” the client. You’re only as good as your last project, so I always strive to top the previous project with the next!
Our focus for 2021 is to continue to market until SnapSports becomes the household name people think of when it comes to building your “Court Dreams.” We will continue to build on our social media presence to engage on major social media platforms, which has been a significant part of our success. The average client follows heavily trafficked social media influencers pages. Then, they follow what the influencers follow. If your favorite rappers, NFL Players, NBA Players, and entertainers used SnapSports to build their custom basketball court, then we become an aspirational brand. Customers also have a sense of pride, knowing they hired one of the best companies and sports construction firms in the world to bring their dream to fruition.
What’s it like being on the SnapSports team?
Joining SnapSports, the world’s leader in athletic surfacing, has been the best business decision I ever made! They offer world-class innovation and technology, but SnapSports has created a family environment. They accommodate my vision and marketing ideas and have indeed been supportive of Court Dreams from inception. It’s very rare to have a manufacturer that takes a phone call to discuss a “big idea” and with no hesitation. SnapSports just says, “Jay, how can we make this work for you?” They then provide the resources and tools to help me succeed at bringing my vision to life. To everyone reading this, if you’re interested in taking the next step to join a real championship team, make it SnapSports. You won’t be disappointed!
What are your long-term goals?
That’s simple: dominate the market! We’ll continue to scale the company, from our office personnel to our installation teams. We’ll also use advanced technologies to streamline our processes and ensure every customer gets a world-class, 5-star experience. Some key partnerships will allow us more national market share. We’re also donating our first basketball court with our partners, the Atlanta Police Foundation and @Promise Center. We also plan to contribute more courts to unserved communities. As a CEO who came from very humble beginnings, it’s especially important to pay it forward. I will continue to identify opportunities that I can impact as many lives as I can through philanthropy. To have the Court Dreams and SnapSports name on athletic courts we’ve donated worldwide is a dream.
If you could build a court for anyone in America, who would it be and why?
Great question! My bucket list has always consisted of Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neil, and Lebron James. When Shaq called to say he loved our work and asked us to build two custom basketball courts for him I started realizing that dream. Hopefully, Michael and Lebron will read this and say, “Jay, check me off your bucket list!”
You can work with Jay if you’re interested in building a basketball court at your home or business. If you’re not in the Southeast, we’ll help you find a dealer in your area. Just call us today at
1‑800‑664‑3865 (DUNK) or
Design Your Court now »
To learn more about SnapSports indoor and outdoor multi-courts, basketball courts, volleyball courts, and pickleball courts, we invite you to read more about our champion products on our blog.