The film follows William Gates and Arthur Agee, two African-American teenagers who are recruited by a scout from St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Illinois, a predominantly white high school with an outstanding basketball program, whose alumni include NBAgreat Isiah Thomas.
Agee and Gates are both from poor, African-American neighborhoods in Chicago, Illinois. Gates lived in Cabrini–Green while Agee and his family resided in West Garfield Park.
Taking 90-minute commutes to school, enduring long and difficult workouts and practices, and having to acclimatise to a foreign social environment, Gates and Agee struggle to improve their athletic skills in a job market with heavy competition. Along the way, their families celebrate their successes and support each other during times of economic hardship caused from the school change.
The film raises a number of issues concerning race, class, economic division, education, and values in the contemporary United States.