Some of the top San Quentin athletes showed their talents for the annual tryouts for the prison’s age 40 and older basketball team.
The Kings coaching staff picked a mix of returning veteran players with several new faces, putting the scrimmage teams in scenarios that tested each player’s ability to gel in adverse situations.
“These situations are done to test how players respond emotionally, as well as to see what their basketball IQ is like,” said Head Coach Orlando Harris. “We have plays, but can you adapt quickly if a play breaks down?”
Another key strategy in the tryouts was to see how players responded to perceived bad calls by referees.
“Because we’re playing against teams coming in from outside, our conduct is highly scrutinized,” Harris said. “Bad calls are going to happen; that’s part of the game, but how you respond to bad calls matters huge in making this team.”
“This is really organized, definitely the most organized I’ve ever seen at any prison,” said 39-year-old Derrick Gray, who was looking for a position as a point guard on the team.
Veteran player Jamal “Do It All” Harrison made some big plays in the set scrimmages. Patrick “Nick Nasty” Shields, a 5-foot-10, 220-pound, undersized power forward, made some excellent moves around the rim, making himself a key prospect to make the team.
Another new face to the Kings is Earl “The Pearl” Wilson, a fundamentally sound player who can play three positions and has a high basketball IQ. Wilson is well known to tennis players who come inside San Quentin to play against the Inside Tennis team,
The tryouts were held on Jan. 26-27, 2019.