I was cut from the NBA G League

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How does a 5’9 “NBA editor land on a quick break defended by a former McDonald’s All-American and UNC standout?

That’s the scene last weekend when I tried out the Long Island Nets, the Brooklyn Nets’ G League branch. I found myself attempting a layup alongside former Tar Heel star Baden Jaxen.

Two weeks ago, I received an email from a Nets public relations rep that said:

Hi Jarrel, on behalf of Brooklyn Nets G League affiliate the Long Island Nets. We’re hosting our local player trials next week and wanted to gauge your interest in trying for the team. Know that you are a huge basketball fan and think this would be a great story opportunity.

Most G League teams are holding local trials to give basketball hopefuls a chance to win an invitation to the team’s training camp. Most of these players are pros looking for another opportunity, former college basketball players, overlooked talents who never had a chance, and guys who just paid $ 200 for themselves. lead. I was the only media exception on a field of 75 participants.

A record 45% of players on NBA rosters at the start of the 2020-21 season had G League experience. So why not try to increase this percentage?

OK so I figured out that I was there for a story mission and had no chance to be a part of the team, but I come from the Michael Jordan tree of people who are just too competitive. I hate to lose. Put me against anyone in any competition and I’ll go for it thinking I have a chance. A shooting competition with Stephen Curry? I have this in the bag. Usain Bolt wants to run from me? Hope he likes the back of my shoes. Twelve rounds in the ring with Mike Tyson? OK, I have limits. But who am I to say no to a G League try?

My claim in basketball is to win two intramural championships in consecutive years at Siena College. I played on the same court as Chris Paul, played at Madison Square Garden several times, but in terms of organizational basketball? I never really had that experience. But I am by no means a scrub. Let this flagship video speak for itself.

The Nets hosted two tries over the weekend. The first took place at LIU in Brooklyn on Saturday with the second try at LIU Post in Long Island on Sunday. I chose to attend the one in Brooklyn because of the proximity. I also run my own basketball run every Sunday so I didn’t want to miss that.

All trial participants had to pre-register online, be eligible to play in the NBA G League, and be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend.

The test was conducted by the Nets basketball operations staff, who evaluated each of us in a variety of drills and scrums. I arrived a bit late after some unexpected traffic. I was given a No.81 Long Island Nets training jersey. In my mind, it was a sign of Mamba Mentality, just an extra boost of confidence that I needed. I crept in when the players started to stretch and was greeted by team general manager as well as Brooklyn Nets director of scouting operations Matt Riccardi, who expressed he was really glad I’m here. I was worried it would put a target in the back after everyone noticed I was talking to the guy with the power to give them a contract.

One of the first faces I noticed among the crowd of participants was former Duke playmaker Trevon Duval. There was also Jaxen, who had been training since February to show teams he’s ready to play in the United States after touring several countries like France, Greece and Russia in recent years.

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There are some success stories when it comes to trying out local players. Four guys from the latest Long Island local player trials in 2019 – Joe Cremo, Jonathan Kasibabu, Angel Nunez and Ash Yacoubou – have made their way onto the Long Island Nets roster at various times during the 2019-20 season.

“More than anything, we are looking for people who can improve the intensity of our team and our practices,” says Riccardi. “There are a lot of success stories, especially in our area of ​​New York. We have some really good basketball players so if we can find someone in that framework who can help our roster who can make our team, come to training camp and compete, we would love that. I know we mentioned this earlier, but we’re looking for altruistic play, guys with high character, good teammates, high IQ, and competitors.

The trial started with us split into groups at four different rotating stations. The first drill was a random drill where everyone took turns passing the ball while the defenders attempted to steal it. In one case, I tried to throw the ball to another player and it snapped the edge, causing an assistant coach to speak to everyone: will show you how it’s done.

Welp, bombed my first impression.

In the second exercise, we had to do a combination of dribbling and scoring moves. It sounds simple, but as coaches and trainers demonstrated various movements, it got a little confusing to keep up with the pace. But it was a successful rotation for me.

The third exercise was heartbreaking. It was a shooting exercise, in which I excel. We had to shoot 10 times turning to opposite corners of the free throw line. But when it was finally my turn to shoot, the coaches whistled to change positions.

Damn it. Another missed opportunity.

The fourth and final exercise focused on handling the ball. We had to do a series of movements with two basketballs. There were five different sets. My arms were burnt from having to pound the rock steadily for 30 seconds.

Then came the time of the scrums. They told everyone to line up from smallest to largest. I immediately moved to the front of the line, hoping I wasn’t the smallest, but felt some pride to hear that there were two smaller guys in front of me. Then you had to count: if you are a 1, go here; if you are a 2 go for it etc. I landed with Group 3, which included former Division 1 top scorer Antonie Mason, the son of the late NBA All-Star Anthony Mason.

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I haven’t had that much playing time in the five games we’ve played. I played in spurts and was replaced quickly in each game. My only high potential moment was an attempt to end the game on a quick break, but I was fouled by a defender. No call! Sudden death. We are losing. I finished the day with a 0-2 shot with probably one or two assists.

The coaches got everyone together and told everyone they were inviting a number of guys to stay for a private scrum. If a coach didn’t invite you to stay during games, you had to leave the gym. Mason, Jaxen and Duval have all been invited for private practice. As I, the only member of the media, sat on the sidelines and gathered my things, I heard a voice coming towards me.

“Hi Jarrel. I’m sorry we had to cut you, ”laughs Riccardi.

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