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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Basketball holds public tryouts for walk-on hopefuls

Article Originally Published by Lidianna Reyes on North Texas Daily

Article Originally Published by Lidianna Reyes on North Texas Daily

Last season the North Texas basketball team made it into the 2021 NCAA tournament and won against Purdue in the first round 78-69, the program’s first-ever NCAA tournament victory. However, they came up short and lost in the 2nd round to Villanova.

North Texas basketball hosted a walk-on tryout on Sept. 8 at 9:30 a.m. that gave students a chance to play college basketball. Head coach Grant McCasland said the tryouts are open for the public to watch.

All of the participants were required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with a 2.3 grade point average and have proof of a physical within the last six months.

North Texas has done walk-on tryouts in the past, but McCasland says that he has not had walk-on tryouts during his tenure with North Texas. However, there were several instances last year where the team lost players due to COVID-19 and did not have enough players to practice. The tryouts gave McCasland an opportunity to evaluate players he may want for practice, and also helps him connect the program to the students.

“[We want to] get the students back involved in our program and be able to offer an opportunity to at least get a look at the student population, to see who may practice and help us,” McCasland said. “But also a need for numbers with the possibility that people can be out.”

Assistant coach Jareen Dowling said the walk-on tryout was a great opportunity for guys to experience how the most recent Conference USA champions run their program.

“A great culture, a great program,” Dowling said. “To get to learn from our head coach Grant McCasland, I think it’s an awesome opportunity.”

Captain and senior Thomas Bell said it was a chance for students who may have been overlooked in the scouting progress to show off their skill. 

“I know there are guys that will work hard and they want to be a part of it,” Bell said. “It is a good chance for the other people who didn’t get scholarships, so perfect opportunity.”

While it may seem like a player must be extremely skilled and talented in order to make the team, that is not what McCasland is looking for. In fact, McCasland has an idea of the type of player he would consider picking up for the team.

“We do need someone who can withstand the physicality of the athleticism that is required and the skill to play the game is important,” McCasland said. “But really it is the heart and passion for wanting to help the team that is number one.” 

McCasland said he is usually able to recognize these players through the energy they display on the court. 

“You know, they don’t have to be outgoing per see, but there is an encouragement and energy that people give when they love to play the game. You can tell they want to encourage their teammates,” McCasland said. “Usually guys that are willing to speak to other players while the practice is happening […] they are just always trying to encourage other people. I think that is a big part of winning and that’s what we are looking for in someone that would be a walk-on.”

Bell echoed McCasland’s advice, saying that his potential teammates have to understand the importance of working with the team.

“Come in ready to work, be in shape and be ready to play defense most importantly and be ready to show the ball,” Bell said. “Also try and be a great teammate and to know that it is not all about you and to care for the other person.”

Source: North Texas Daily

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