The Basketball Best Friends Behind 222 Productions
By Michael Charlebois
Jamani Barrett and Chume Nwigwe are two important players on the Lakehead University Thunderwolves men’s basketball team. In 2019, during the team’s most successful season in half a decade, you may have seen Barrett blocking a shot into the stands, or Nwigwe finishing an alley-oop slam. But their hard work and dedication is not limited to basketball. When they aren’t in class or at practice, they are working hard to grow 222 Productions—a video production company named after the student residence in which they reside.
The pair first met in Toronto and transferred to Lakehead in 2019 after attending junior college in Texas. During the 2019–20 season, the Thunderwolves ranked as high as fifth in the country. However, near the end of the season, a knee injury sidelined Barrett indefinitely. He decided to borrow a camera from a friend and started to film games and produce highlight packages for teammates as a way of staying connected with the team. Clips of personal basketball highlights, known as “hoop mixtapes,” are a form of social currency for young athletes in today’s Instagram age.
It didn’t take long for Barrett and Nwigwe to realize that the person behind the camera was just as crucial to the process as the athlete. After COVID-19 hit, they started to produce videos all over the Greater Toronto Area for elite basketball prospects. “After a while we’d show up to the gym and they’d be like, ‘Oh you’re 222,’” Nwigwe recalls. “We’re already friends with a lot of these guys,” Barrett adds. “If I’m just a regular guy trying to get in these gyms, it wouldn’t happen.”
Now back in Thunder Bay, the two are looking to expand by producing videos for local companies such as Milktease Bubble Tea, and Wealth Evolution Inc. “Not a lot of people have that drive to own something for themselves,” Barrett says.
With this year’s basketball season officially cancelled due to COVID-19, Barrett and Nwigwe are laser-focused once they leave practice and head to the editing studio (their rooms). “I don’t want to work a normal job,” Nwigwe says. “I want to go places, meet people, and film.”
Their work can be viewed at @2twenty2.prod on Instagram.