Armor Open Tryouts, Can Keep Up to 5
Saturday morning started early for Springfield (Mass.) Armor staff. Like 3 a.m. early. They piled into a few cars and began the three-hour trip to the PNY Center -- practice facility of their NBA affiliate, the Brooklyn Nets -- in East Rutherford, N.J.
There, they set up for the first of two open tryouts to try and fatten the scouting database before the NBA Development League Draft this November. Out of the players Armor staff sees today and on October 21 in Springfield will be able to extend up to five training camp invites, precluding those players from entering the Draft.
"Open tryouts are a fantastic opportunity for up-and-coming players to showcase their skills in front of NBA D-League team personnel," said Chris Alpert, the D-League's Vice President of Basketball Operations and Player Personnel. "Each year we see a crop of solid young talent come into our league from open tryouts, and we expect this year to be no different."
In the last three years, almost 100 players to start with an open tryout have played minutes in the D-League, including 2012 D-League Defensive Player of the Year Stefhon Hannah, 2012 D-League All-Stars Zach Andrews and Lee Humphrey, as well as D.J. Kennedy, who earned a Call-Up to the Cleveland Cavaliers this past season. The Armor has its own success stories, with three players making the regular-season roster in each year of the team's three-year history.
In 2009, Julian Allen and Dante Milligan made the cut along with Tre Whitted of Marshall, who eventually developed into the fifth-leading scorer in Armor history. A year later, Kyle Cuffe (St. John's) joined Brian Leggett and Mike Williams in Springfield; they were followed this past season by David Akinyooye, Travis Cohn and Alejo Rodriguez. Cohn notably scored in double figures six straight games (Dec. 8-18, 2011), including a season-high 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting against the Erie Bayhawks on December 15.
Saturday's tryout began with warm-ups that quickly graduated to high energy skill drills intended to begin tiring out-of-shape players. That was followed by a few shell drills that involved team plays -- two transition, one half-court -- and then 5-on-5 executions of them.
During a break for lunch, the Armor staff -- headed by Coach Bob MacKinnon and General Manager Milton Lee -- reviewed their observations with the various Nets employees helping out. Lee pointed out that the "Development" in D-League isn't just for players; he hoped for the lower-rung operations staff to seize the moment, advancing opinions and earning on-court experience they might have little opportunity to gain during the NBA or D-League season.
After reorganizing the teams, Lee and MacKinnon left much of the afternoon session for scrimmages. Attuned to the little things, the pair knows to ignore the scoring and seek players who are adaptable, team-oriented and hustle without complaint. We'll know if they found any by Training Camp.