The most recent NBA lockout talks don't see to be moving basketball fans any closer to a regular season. Basketball will still be happening in the NBA Development League, however, and the teams are currently scouring the nation as they look for potential players to invite to training camp.
D-League tryouts are often a sight to behold (as the Wall Street Journal's Ben Cohen recently noted) with many men showing up hoping to impress the coaches and scouts in attendance -- even if they
might not probably don't have the necessarily skills to succeed in the NBA's official minor league. I mentioned this during a conversation with new Dakota Wizards head coach a couple of weeks ago, though, and he quickly dispelled the notion that the tryouts aren't worth putting on.
"Well there are some guys, Scott, that have snuck through these tryouts -- there have been some nice players coming into our league that wouldn't have been given a chance if they didn't show up at one of these sessions," Bjorkgren told Ridiculous Upside in advance of his Wizards' open tryouts scheduled for October 15 in Hayward, California."You can look at Mike Anderson with us -- the Wizards -- and then a guy last year (while Bjorkgren was serving as an assistant coach with the Iowa Energy) in Stefhon Hannah that have had an impact in the D-League out of open tryouts," Bjorkgren said. "Those are just a couple of examples connected to me, but every year there are guys that have made an impact around the D-League by going through the tryouts."
Hannah and Anderson didn't make themselves household names this past season during their time playing in the D-League, but both players elevated themselves on the global basketball market -- with Anderson already having decided to re-sign with the D-League for a second tour of duty in hopes of following up on a solid first season with the Wizards.
Anderson played collegiately at Virginia Commonwealth, floated around with teams in Austria and Slovakia during the 2009-10 season and then attended Dakota's open tryouts in Washington D.C. last summer. The 6-foot-7 forward eventually earned a spot on the team's regular season roster where he'd play in all 50 games while averaging 12.1 points and 5.3 rebounds in 22 starts.
"Mike came out of Dakota's D.C. tryouts, Stef Hannah came out of our Chicago tryout and both played big roles this past season," Bjorkgren said.
"Hannah's a guy that we brought into our training camp, we ended up cutting him, and then we brought him back again when we had room for him on the roster later in the season," Bjorkgren recalled. "(Starting point guard) Curtis Stinson got a little banged up in the D-League Finals, giving an opening to Hannah, and he went and scored 31 points."
Hannah, a former point guard for Mizzou, talked to former D-League.com writer Matthew Brennan about his journey from the open tryouts to being the go-to guy for his team just a few months later.
"First of all, I have to thank God," Hannah told Brennan. "I had a tough road, I didn't have an agent so I had to do things on my own. I went to the open tryout and they called me in and I made the team, but I got let go. But by the grace of God they called me back and here I am."
If you want to be where Hannah was last season -- figuratively, not literally, of course, because then you would have to spend your winter in Iowa instead of beautiful North Dakota -- the first step is signing up for the team's open tryout just two weeks away.
Considering the success both Bjorkgren and Dakota had with tryouts last season, there's a good chance this offers one of the best opportunities this offseason, at least in terms of open tryouts.
- D-League Tryouts Allow Players To Move Step Closer To NBA Goal
- Complete list of local tryout information for all D-League teams