The evening of Sept. 22 saw a brand-new event on the campus of Weber State University. For the first time ever, walk-on tryouts were held for the Weber State University basketball team prior to the upcoming season.
12 students walked into the Swenson Gym eager to showcase their skills on the court. Several types of drills took place during the hour-long tryout, including ball handling skills, calisthenics and scrimmage play. Director of Basketball Operations Tim O’Flannigan organized the tryout and worked closely with the athletes on each drill.
The fast-paced scrimmage kept players on their toes. Each athlete wanted to make a positive first impression on the staff.
There were many new faces looking for a fresh opportunity, such as Austin Johnson.
“A few years ago, I had the opportunity to go play collegiate ball, but an injury happened. Now I decided to come back from it and try to see what my skills are here,” Johnson said.
For students like Jamar Hill, the tryout was a chance to feature skills he thinks prove he is better than the rest.
“I love competing. When someone thinks they are better than you, you just go at them. Just go at everybody. I kind of feel like I have a Kobe (Bryant) mentality,” Hill said.
In addition to his competitive streak, Hill also tried to show off his teamwork.
“I talked, communicated, just tried to be a good team member and team leader.”
Some of the people who showed up found their passion for basketball in other countries, such as Felipe Prieto. He has been at Weber State for two years after moving to the states from Chile.
Now, after getting an academic scholarship to come to Weber State, Prieto’s focus is all about the Wildcats.
“I love it. I love the school, I love the campus, and I have always wanted to play for a NCAA team in Division I since I was a little kid,” Prieto said. “I dreamed to come to America, now things are happening.”
Prieto is optimistic about how his athletic abilities complement his passion.
“I think I have great athleticism. I can dunk, have good handles, and I’d love to be part of the team.”
For Giovanni Garcia, his own love for basketball was not the sole reason for trying for a spot with the Wildcats.
“It was cheap to come here, but then they also have big-time alumni like Damian Lillard,” Garcia said.
At the conclusion of the tryout, O’Flannigan gathered everyone in a huddle at mid court. He told all the participants that they would be hearing whether or not to come back for a workout by the middle of the following week.
Weber State’s basketball roster will come into focus over the next several weeks. Media day took place on Sept. 27, and the first exhibition contest will take place on Nov. 2. The Wildcats open the regular season against Utah State on Nov. 10 at the Dee Events Center.