A little less than a year ago, sports agent BJ Bass reeled in the likes of Knicks General Manager Glen Grunwald and other NBA executives to Basketball City in the Big Apple, to take a look at a few of his more promising prospects at the first annual RBA Sports Showcase.
Just how "promising" some of these young guns actually were, however, was perhaps in the eye of the beholder. The most notable of the bunch was undoubtedly Vernon Goodridge. A truly athletic, physical, and high-flying specimen, Goodridge was most well known for spending training camp with the Warriors in 2010. He went on to play in the NBA D-League the following season, and has been overseas ever since.
If Bass had an eye for a player as talented as Goodridge, perhaps he had an eye for other players with as much potential, too. At the very least, that's what he hoped to prove to Grunwald and the other executives present last year.
But just as Goodridge had taken time to prepare himself, gain more exposure and exposure, and get more physically and mentally ready for the opportunity to truly be considered ready for the NBA, Bass recognizes the fact that other young guns will likely have to do the same as they come up as well.
The agent's vision for helping players achieve their goals and life dreams entails being able to grow them organically. With an eye for talent not many others have, Bass finds potential in the youngsters who otherwise fly under the radar. Providing them with a prime training spot at Basketball City, Bass understands how to get them ready for the professional game, and values the NBA D-League as an especially special way to do so.
Take Tony Taylor, for instance. Fresh out of George Washington University last summer, Taylor was thrust in a handful of NBA workouts in the offseason. Though he perhaps lacked the confidence, aggression, and the experience necessary to compete, the Tulsa 66ers (the D-League affiliate of the OKC Thunder) saw his immense amount of potential and drafted him in the second round of the NBADL Draft last fall.
All of the things Taylor may have lacked last summer were things you could acquire and/or take time to teach him. The skill level, maturity, and foundation for steady fundamentals were all already there. Spending a season in Tulsa, Taylor gained all of what he lacked and more. He played alongside the slew of Thunder assignees that came to town, starred for the 66ers during their postseason run, and in turn, earned himself a spot on the third "All-NBA D-League" Rookie Team. What's more, he hit the game-winning shot in The Finals for the Thunder in Orlando Summer League, and served as the Heat's starting floor general in Las Vegas.
Fast-forward to the second annual RBA Sports Showcase in 2013, and Taylor is now more capable than ever of earning himself a shot. With executives from teams like the Knicks, Nets, Pelicans, and others present, he and Goodridge stole the show yet again. Taylor displayed maturity in running the floor and impeccable instincts. He charged to the basket a few times, faded away for a couple of long balls, and even came in hard for a thunderous dunk during one of the many scrimmages of the day.
Taylor may have shown his progression, but Goodridge proved yet again he's as prime and prepared for another opportunity than he's ever been. Also playing better than last year, the big man still proved to be a physical and intimidating force defensively. He knows how to assert himself and make his presence felt.
What was plesantly surprising, however, was his ever consistent mid-range jumper. Perhaps showing the international game has rubbed off on him, Goodridge had one of the better mid-range strokes you'll find for a big man. If a guy like Chris Copeland can get a shot (and thrive upon getting one, too), isn't it time for the former to get a similar opportunity to prove he can do the same?
Goodridge and Taylor may have indeed proven once again to be the headlining acts for RBA Sports, but the agency has so much more depth in their ranks than a year ago. The fact of the matter is both Goodridge and Taylor are prime examples that with the proper time, attention, and procedure, RBA can and will produce very promising players.
Aside from Taylor, D-League alumni like the Los Angeles D-Fenders' Phil Jones and fellow 66ers' guard Isaiah Wilkerson also competed. Jamine "Greedy" Peterson, who in 2010-11 scored 40 points during a game for the New Mexico Thunderbirds (then of the NBADL) took part in scrimmages as well.
Some of RBA Sports' more intriguing players included Orion Outerbridge, Lester Prosper, and Dami Sapara, all of whom could also be D-League bound come later this fall.
RidiculousUpside.com will soon have more analysis regarding some of the actual exhibition's top standouts, but one thing is for certain. As Goodridge and Taylor (and others who aren't far behind them) have continued to prove, the door is wide open for some of RBA Sports' athletes to walk right through and fully capitalize, should an opportunity to prove they belong in The Association be granted.