Hope springs eternal at Springfield Armor open tryout

James Smith (center) impressed at the Armor's weekend tryouts.

This weekend, around 50 players attended the Springfield Armor’s annual open tryout at Springfield College. Each D-League team can hold an open tryout, but from that open tryout that team can invite up to five players to attend training camp.

First-year head coach Bob MacKinnon Jr. said at the beginning of training camp that he was open to the idea of bringing the maximum five, but also said he could invite as little as one player. Each team has to sent a list of players to the D-League by Monday.

At sign-up, players wrote their height, wingspan, and most recent team or level of play. Around 10 listed their most recent level of play as high school. One put not applicable. One wrote down intramurals.

After sifting through the Vince Papale wannabes, there was some good competition out there.

Eleven former Division I players -– ranging from small schools such as Coppin State, Marist, and Stony Brook, all the way to bigger schools such as Oregon –- were in attendance.

“There are a couple of intriguing players,” said Milton Lee, the General Manager for Minor League Operations. “[But] I can’t disclose who they were.”

There were mostly guards at the tryout, with only a few true power forwards and centers. The Armor already have an experienced backcourt; earlier this week the Armor announced that guards JamesOn Curry and Lance Hurdle would return to Springfield for 2011-2012.

Bob MacKinnon, Jr.
However, MacKinnon Jr. said the returning players have no influence over whom he invites to camp. “We’re just looking for players,” said MacKinnon Jr. “In the D-League you’re always looking for players.”

One standout: former D-Leaguer James Smith. One of the only big men at the tryout, standing close to seven feet, Smith moved well for a big man and displayed a nice perimeter shot. “He has a unique skill,” said Lee. “He can shoot NBA threes. He’s got D-League level skill.”

An invitation to camp doesn’t guarantee a spot on the roster. Even if one makes the team, with the way the D-League functions, there’s no telling what impact or how long a player will be with the team.

One positive thing to take away from the tryout was the new hybrid partnership between the Nets and the Armor.

MacKinnon looks like a great hire by Lee and the Nets. He’s a proven winner in the D-League, and brings intensity and enthusiasm to the team — something lacking during Dee Brown’s tenure as Armor head coach. “I think Coach MacKinnon and I have a plan of getting the roster together and the type of basketball we want to play,” said Lee. “I’m excited for the upcoming season. I think it will prove some immediate results.”

The invitees from the open tryout will head to training camp, which begins in the middle of November. Along with returning Armor players and tryout invitees will be the Armor’s draft choices from the eight-round D-League Draft on November 3rd. The Armor traded away its first-round pick at last year’s draft to the Tulsa 66ers in exchange for Scottie Reynolds.