Desoto County Sports

Memphis Hustle holds open player tryouts

Photo: Players go through drills Saturday, Sept. 16, during open playoff tryouts at Christian Brothers University’s Canale Arena. (Bob Bakken/

It was a long shot, a lot longer than a “deep three,” but about 50 basketball players were willing to take the shot Saturday and possibly get a foot in the door of professional basketball with the Memphis Hustle of the NBA G League.  

The Hustle held their annual Local Open Tryouts at Canale Arena on the Christian Brothers University campus in Memphis.

Those who came out likely were college basketball players who, for whatever reason, may have been overlooked for pro basketball and were trying to keep a dream alive. They were willing to sign up, pay the fee, and then go through drills and scrimmages while being evaluated by Hustle coach Jason March, his assistants, and members of the Grizzlies basketball operations staff.  

Open tryouts are a part of the roster selection process that most teams in the NBA G League use, and March said the Hustle holds the tryouts in a sincere search for player talent.  

“We take this seriously,” March said. “We’ve had training camp invites and we’ve had players from these open tryouts make our roster. Brad Jones (Grizzlies assistant coach), when he was head coach with the Hustle, had an open tryouts player that started in the playoffs for him, so we do take this seriously.”

It’s a long process for an open tryout player to make the roster. Out of the approximately 50 players who came out Saturday morning, about 15-20 players were chosen to remain after a round of cuts. Those players received further evaluation in scrimmaging. From there, they may be given invitations to the Hustle’s training camp. 

Those who made the training camp roster were then further scrutinized and from that group, a final roster is determined. However, the final roster also includes NBA G League draft choices and two-way players from the Grizzlies assigned to the Hustle, so the number of available spots is few and far between. March cautioned players who make the roster from open tryouts face a small role, but the role they do play is important to the team’s success.  

“The number one thing from this spot that we are looking for is character,” March said. “You have to come in to fill a role without complaining and fitting into our system and what we do. You’re probably not going to play a lot, your role is sometimes potentially helping us in practice.”

Evaluations of the players involved more than just “hoopin,” you might said. March said they wanted to know if the tryout players had command of the basics of basketball.  

“We want to see if you can handle the ball, pass, those types of things, so we do start off with some fundamental things that probably get lost sometimes at the professional levels,” March said.  

While the tryouts were not open to the public, it is a first sign the process of forming a roster for the team that plays its home games at Southaven’s Landers Center is now underway.  

Bob Bakken

Bob Bakken is the most recognized and most trusted name in DeSoto County news and sports reporting, as readers continue to express their appreciation for his accuracy and fairness in the stories he writes. Bob is also heard on 95.3 The Rebel twice a week with sports updates and high school football play-by-play broadcasts in the fall. A former newspaper editor and writer, his award-winning background also includes television news producing, sports media relations, and radio broadcasting.

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