The 2015 NBA D-League national tryout is just days away. In a league full of tomorrow's impact players and promising athletes who continue hoping to make their respective marks, the journey starts here. The annual event is truly the first (and sometimes only) chance these aspiring pros have to turn heads.
It's an opportunity to shine, but also to learn. With NBA D-League championship winning coach Bob MacKinnon leading the way as camp director, a slew of highly qualified minor league coaches will also be guiding the prospects throughout. Warriors' assistant Raman Sposato, Legends' assistant Tyler Gatlin, and Mad Ants' assistant Dylan Murphy highlight a group of twenty plus mentors.
"This is an opportunity for me to observe, learn, help, and to share what I know. I'll have an opportunity to be with my own group. I have a chance to make an impact in some way," Coach Gatlin told RidiculousUpside.com. "I want that to be a positive experience for all of the players. It goes by so quickly, but so much happens and there a lot of things going on. For me, It's a great chance to see some familiar faces and also make some new friends."
Having been a part of the Legends' staff for well over four years now, Gatlin knows what it takes to be (and subsequently how to find) a quality D-League player. In Texas, he's been tasked with leading the local tryouts as his team seeks out potential diamonds in the rough. As such, he knows there's certainly a chance to unmask some potential talent as well on Sunday.
"Over the past four years, guys come in who can play. I've seen guys like Tony Bishop, Jonathan Simmons, and Sammy Yeager all come to our tryouts. They've made an impact in the D-League," he pointed out. "From what I've heard about this event, there are going to be about 20-40 guys who can really play. It'll come down to how they do that day, which coaches they interact with, and who they have in their corner. A lot of stars have to align, but if you make the right impression on the right people, all these guys need to do is wait for something good to happen to them."
With that in mind, what is it that Coach Gatlin himself is going to be on the lookout for?
"You love to see guys with that love and passion for the game. I expect to see all sorts of different shapes and sizes, talents, and everything in between. But you find those guys that are hungry and motivated. They'll have something that's transferrable to the D-League. Whatever you're looking for, you should be able to find," Gatlin added. "I'm excited, because you never know which players you'll make a connection with. I can take it back to Coach Najera and the gang, and come November 1st, maybe we'll get a player out of this. Otherwise, this is about the experience."
Of course, Gatlin himself is more than qualified to give advice as well. The players will be looking to him for guidance as they attempt to soak everything in and learn whatever they can by making the most out of the experience. It's not a role he takes lightly. That said, how will he look to motivate them?
"The message that I try and convey is that these guys never know who is in the gym watching. I'm sure for a lot of these guys, this isn't their first time. They've been to national and/or local tryouts. They haven't gotten that break, but they need to maintain the mindset that this could be their opportunity," the Legends' assistant asserted. "This is their time to shine. If doubt starts to creep in, the odds are already stacked against these guys. But if they believe in themselves, so will we, and then it might just happen for them."
As Gatlin says, the national tryout is set to be a promising opportunity for all involved to further relationships, learn from one another, and subsequently shine at their own respective crafts. A gathering of such dedicated individuals can only benefit them along the way.