Lakeland Magic Open Tryout Great Opportunity for Local Talent

By Josh Cohen
Aug. 25, 2017

ORLANDO — You’ve probably heard these inspirational messages many times before.

“You never know until you try” and “it’s never too late to chase a dream.”

Sometimes your talents are concealed and you need an open platform to showcase your untapped potential.

The G League offers that platform for those who aspire to play professional basketball. It opens a door for those who have slipped under the radar.

Before each season, G League teams hold open tryouts. As many as five players from each team’s tryout can be added to a G League team’s training camp.

The Lakeland Magic, who recently named Anthony Parker general manager and Stan Heath head coach, hold their tryouts on Sept. 23. More information is available here.

“We’re really excited about the tryout,” Parker said. “We have a talented area here (in Central Florida) with guys that have had some success playing the game so I’m anxious to see who comes out.”

Believing the “experts” couldn’t have gotten it wrong is a common fallacy among players who never were drafted by an NBA franchise or simply haven’t received any major accolades during their careers. Evaluating talent is far from an exact science and sometimes scouts and other front office personnel lose sight of a player’s development and potential.

As a result, if you think you’ve been discounted and have the skills and character to be an asset for a G League team, give it a shot. Remember, “you never know until you try” and “it’s never too late to chase a dream.”

Over the last three seasons, 104 players who auditioned for G League teams made opening night rosters. While rare, a few have taken their talent to the NBA.

Jonathon Simmons, who signed with the Orlando Magic earlier this summer, is one of those diamonds in the rough. He paid $150 in 2013 to audition for the Austin Toros, the G League affiliate of the San Antonio Spurs.

It didn’t take long for this life-altering decision to work out in his favor. Simmons was sensational in Austin. The Spurs noticed and Simmons later earned his spot in San Antonio.

“I’m very proud,” Simmons said about his journey to the NBA and the Magic. “It’s been a long road and there’s a lot of work to be done still. It was a grind and the love for the game helped me to appreciate the grind even more.”

“Everybody has their own journey. It’s what you make the best of. I think I made the best out of the little opportunity that I had and I just kept pushing from there,” he added.

David Nwaba is another young player that recently caught the attention of NBA general managers. In one year, Nwaba went from trying out for the Reno Bighorns to claiming multiple honors with the Los Angeles D-Fenders to playing for the Lakers. He signed with the Chicago Bulls in July.

Alfonzo McKinnie travelled down a similar path. His tryout with the Windy City Bulls last year was a success and in July he signed with the Toronto Raptors.

Perhaps it will be in Lakeland where the next prodigy and relative unknown will come out of his shell and turn a dream into a reality.

Parker, who has worked in the Magic organization since retiring as a player in 2012, encourages anyone with a passion and commitment to basketball to try out. He points to Simmons’ journey as an example of how possible it really is for players to take advantage of a G League tryout.

“We all grow up saying you can be anything you want, anything can happen, but when you have somebody that’s actually done it that kind of gives you encouragement that this is possible,” said Parker, who spent time with the Sixers, Magic, Raptors and Cavaliers during his NBA playing career. “If you have the talent, we’re going to give you the opportunity.”

“What we want to do is try to bring in people that love the game, that are willing to put the team above themselves, that are going to play hard and play for each other,” he added. “Obviously, the talent has to be there. Off the court, what we want is individuals that understand that they’re representing Lakeland. We really want to have an impact on this community.”

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