The inaugural season of the Washington Wizards' G-League franchise, the Capital City Go-Go, will bring a lot of new experiences for the D.C. area and that includes the process of open tryouts as they seek the best players in the community to fill out their final roster spots.
There will be an opportunity for the best basketball players in the region to showcase their talent in front of Go-Go executives. They don't know if there will be one or two tryouts, when or where they will be held, but the expectation is sometime in September.
Go-Go general manager Pops Mensah-Bonsu is hoping for a big turnout.
"I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how many people and what kind of talent we can have coming out to those local tryouts. Once we got those dates, we’ll get them out to the community and hopefully we get a ton of guys coming out here to represent their area," he said.
"Whoever comes out, we’ll love it. The more the merrier. It might make our job harder to choose, but I’m okay with that. It’s an expansion team. We’re looking to put this team together and if we have 200 guys come out, that would be great. It just gives us more of an opportunity and a bigger pool to look through. I’m okay with a lot of guys coming out."
Tryouts are commonplace in the G-League, but the Go-Go expect to have an advantage based on their location. The D.C. area is a hotbed for basketball talent and over the years has produced many NBA players and Division 1 college stars.
Mensah-Bonsu can attest to that, having spent many years in the area. He was a star at George Washington University, was with the Wizards in training camp during his professional playing days and has since stuck around to make the city his home.
"The DMV area has a wealth of basketball talent," he said.
Go-Go head coach Jarell Christian is relatively new to the area, but he expects the tryouts to be productive for a G-League talent search. He has held open tryouts before when he was a member of the G-League staff in Oklahoma City. But this isn't Oklahoma City.
"The talent level in Oklahoma City is different than here in D.C., so I think we’ll be able to find some really good players, locally in those tryouts," Christian said.
Christian said that those who want to sign up will likely need to get in contact with members of the front office, either by themselves or with the help of an agent. He mentioned Mensah-Bonsu and also Scott Schroeder, their assistant GM.
Christian and the coaching staff will run them through drills and scrimmages to evaluate which players to keep. Once they see the basketball skills, they will put them through background checks and get testimonials, just like any other job.
"We just want to get a feel for what the players can do. Also, we’ve gotta get to know them and their character. If we do like a player, we’ve gotta make sure we call their references and they check out as being people that we want in our organization at the end of the day," Christian said.
The G-League allows each team to invite up to five players from their tryouts to participate in preseason training camp.
There are several stipulations when it comes to who can try out. Players have to be at least 18 years old and international prospects are often not allowed. The tryouts also generally require a registration fee. More information on the requirements for the Go-Go tryouts will be released once the dates are set.
Open tryouts for other teams around the G-League have produced some unique success stories. Guys who have gone on to make the NBA include Jonathan Simmons and David Nwaba. Perhaps the Go-Go will find the next diamond in the rough.
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