The Delaware Blue Coats, the NBA G League affiliate of the Philadelphia 76ers, held their second open tryout of the month this past Saturday.
And it was a packed house bright and early inside Temple University’s McGonigle Hall.
Luckily, there were more than enough blue-and-white reversible practice jerseys with the Blue Coats logo for the 126 tryout participants. That number surpassed the previous record of 119 attendees. Prior to scrimmage action, first-year Blue Coats Head Coach Connor Johnson addressed the large group of G League hopefuls on the second of four consecutive hardwood courts.
His message was simple: “Pace, space, and pass.”
It’s a familiar message for those who have heard Johnson speak in anticipation of the upcoming basketball season at the all-new 76ers Fieldhouse in Wilmington. It is one of the many ways in which the 28-year-old head coach wants to mirror the 76ers, where he spent the previous four seasons as a member of Brett Brown’s staff. Johnson was joined by a number of other talent evaluators on Saturday, including Blue Coats General Manager and 76ers Vice President of Basketball Operations Elton Brand, who wanted to see the same type of play in the scrimmages.
“It’s a tryout setting,” Brand said in an on-site interview with Devon Givens of 97.5 The Fanatic. “What I like is [for] a player to make the right pass every time. I’m not trying to show you that I can score. I’m trying to play the game the right way because when Shake Milton comes down, [Landry] Shamet comes down…you have Demetrius [Jackson]. You have our talented Sixers players coming down. Zhaire Smith. You need to be able to pass them the ball and you need to be comfortable doing that. We don’t want you shooting when someone like that is wide open.”
Givens, a Sixers Insider and sports talk host for The Fanatic, laced up his own sneakers at the tryout for the third straight year.
“They keep inviting me back,” Givens said with a smile. “So that’s the number one thing. If I get the invite back, I must be doing something right. A little bit, just enough to get back.”
The basketball-loving sports radio personality acknowledged the opportunity that the players have in front of them at such an event.
“If you come out and you have a great day, that can maybe lead you to the next day to have that next opportunity to do it,” Givens said. “They want defense and those extra passes. A lot of people can score. Not everybody can stop people from scoring, and that’s one thing you need to be a team player, a rotational player.
There are different paths. This is a really good one to get your foot into the league somehow.”
Saturday marked the second of three open tryouts for the Blue Coats this preseason. Since 2013, a total of 20 players from the team’s open tryouts have been invited to NBA G League Training Camp and 12 players have made the regular season roster. Everyone gets a number and everyone gets a chance, as Brand reiterated following the Philly tryout.
“It’s all about the love,” Brand said. “We have season ticket holders that come out if they feel they have enough game to play at this level. We’ll get all levels and we welcome all levels.”
All levels are welcome this Saturday, September 15 at 8:00 a.m. at Albright College in Reading, PA.
To pre-register for this tryout, please click here.