For NBA superfans who always believed they had a shot at breaking into The Association, gaining access to and strutting their stuff in front of a slew of NBA executives is often all but a pipe dream.
But for those who continue to highlight such an attempt as an important event on their bucket list, the NBA D-League gives them the opportunity to cross it off. For a small fee of $300, fans and prospects alike were given the chance of a lifetime to compete against one another and have their talent evaluated by top basketball decision makers.
For some of course, Saturday's national D-League tryout was simply about having some fun, but for others, it was a legitimate chance to prove they belong.
Thus, with the overall level of talent present at Basketball City up for debate, the select few who should have shined looked like men among the rest of the boys.
RBA Sports' pair of big men, Lester Prosper and Orion Outerbridge, towered over the rest as two of the taller players in attendance. Prosper looked good inside, physicality asserting himself down low, often finishing under the basket and drawing fouls when he couldn't.
Outerbridge, on the other hand, displayed versatility. Of course, he too can finish inside and his long arms help him defensively. That said, Outerbridge also put on display a decent mid-range jump shot, and even led a fast break all the way down the court and finished with a nice layup at the other end.
Prosper and Outerbridge led a handful of taller players whose abilities seemed to stand out, more so because it was unique and difficult to come by. There wasn't a lot of size available at the tryout.
Because of this, it became a little easier for the big men with legitimate talent to thrive. With that in mind, however, it's also that much more difficult for guards and swingmen to make a noticeable enough impressive.
A player by the name of Ahmad Aasiya-Bey still managed to break away from the pack. From Imperial Valley College, the 6'3", 180 pounder proved to be as consistent of a performer as they came on Saturday. Through two games, his skills never wavered as he displayed steady floor general instincts, and a tremendous handle on the ball. This highlight clip here suggests he has some decent hops, too.
Ensuring that the array of D-League hopefuls present got the most out of the experience, the league reeled in a handful of past NBA veterans to help lead the prospects once they were broken up into teams. The NBA alumni present included two-time NBA champion James Posey, Zendon Hamilton, Danny Schayes, and Sean Rooks.
Hoping to find that oh so coveted diamond in the rough, NBA and D-League executives alike come out by the plentiful. Those in attendance included Knicks' Director of Scouting Kristian Petesic and Nets' Director of Baskeball Operations (and Springfield Armor GM) Milton Lee, from the NBA side of things. Coaches from the staffs of the Maine Red Claws, Springfield Armor, Fort Wayne Mad Ants, and Canton Charge were present. Bakersfield Jam Assistant GM Brian Levy and (free agent) coach Joel Abelson also observed.
For the slew of executives in town for the tryout, the opportunity proved to be one simply to network with all those in the building at one time. That appeared to take first priority, while hoping to find a talent or two that caught their eye was a close second. Lee (of the Nets) however, could often be seen throughout the day taking players who intrigued him off to the side for a little one on one observation.
It will be interesting to see how many of the players receive further looks from the NBA and D-League teams, but a source told RidiculousUpside.com that last season, roughly 20% of those in attendance received minor league contracts to, at the very least, become eligible for the D-League Draft the following fall.