In recent years, competing in a NBA G League tryout has given basketball fans a chance to live out their childhood fantasy and compete on the big stage for a day or two. But for aspiring athletes, going through the motions of the tryout circuit has become a way of life as they fight tooth and nail for the opportunity to prove they have what it takes to survive as a professional.
DaQuan Brooks is someone who is all too familiar with a process, having most recently turned up at the 2018 NBA G League Player Invitational. Despite serving as a standout at a handful of tryouts over the years and playing in the NBL of Canada over parts of three different campaigns, he continues to fly under the radar. Upon reflecting, he believes his career got off to a slow start due to an uphill battle in college.
“I’m trying to get that one chance. I’ve played with a bunch of NBA guys and I always hold my own. I have had a different path because I messed up with my grades in high school. I ended up playing DIII basketball,” he told RidiculousUpside.com. “I didn’t have anyone in my corner to guide me toward the right moves. I would have done things differently.”
Brooks isn’t the first one to suggest that someone in his position would have benefitted from more support and guidance. It’s difficult for teenagers to have the foresight and maturity required to make sound decisions around a potential long-term career. Nevertheless, the guard has come into his own. Now 28 years old, he continues to compete and has been known to perform well at these tryouts. Teams are taking notice.
“I felt like I was the best point guard there. Going into the tryout, the Santa Cruz Warriors had liked me a bunch and I’ve been talking to them,” Brooks said of the Player Invitational. “My coach at the tryout works for the Raptors 905 and they want to see me again. I’m not sure what is holding me back or what is left for me to prove, but I’m sticking with it.”
Because he’s not fresh out of college, teams may be weary of rolling the dice on Brooks. He believes, however, that his experience and transition over the last few years has ultimately made him a better player, more prepared than before to make an impact.
“They say you are in your athletic prime from 28-32 years of age . I’ll be ready under any circumstances. In the G League, you could be starting one night and playing backup minutes to an NBA assignee the next,” he explained. “I know the game and have a good feel for running plays and how to handle different things.”
Brooks says he stays at the top of his game by competing against some very notable NBA players during the offseason. “I’ve played against Kemba Walker and Kyrie Irving. Every summer, we have guys like Lou Williams, Iman Shumpert, Mike Scott, and Shelvin Mack come to our area. I hold my own and feel like they respect me. I compete against Lou often at our summer Pro-Am in Atlanta.”
Brooks certainly has confidence, which is very important. For some, the faith may waver after not getting a chance to strut their stuff right away. That being said, Brooks knows staying the course often means only worrying about what he does on the court, and being less concerned with the politics off of it.
“Two years ago, I was invited to Fort Wayne Mad Ants’ training camp. I competed in a tryout and there were about 200 kids. They kept about two or three guys and I was one of them,” he said. “I signed my contract, but then somehow I ended up in the draft and never heard back.”
Brooks has come close before and continues to scratch the surface. With that in mind, he hopes his perseverance will ultimately result in the chance he and so many others grind it out for. Playing the waiting game after leaving it all out there on the court isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but it’s necessary for those hungry for action at the G League level.