The new Nevada Desert Dog team in the North American Premier Basketball League (NAPB) held tryouts on Dec. 28-30 in St. George Utah to choose their opening day roster for the upcoming season. Twenty one hopefuls showed up with dreams to fill a 12 spot roster plus three spots on a practice squad. Thursday’s opening tryouts were intense as players showed their athleticism and skills under the watchful eye of head coach Paul Mokeski and his staff. After shuffling of players amongst three teams, coach Mokeski overviewed scrimmages for three hours testing the individual skills of each player. Many of the players have competed in the past at a high level on North and South American, European and Asian continent professional teams. The team will change their practice venue to Las Vegas the week of Jan.1-6. The initial roster mix includes three point guards, two shooting guards, three centers and a group of small and power forwards.
The Dogs guards are quick and very athletic led by former Oregon player Jonathon Lloyd, who has the distinction of being the only PAC-12 player to play for a championship squad in both basketball and football. “I played both in Germany and China,” said Lloyd. “The league should be a huge success because most of us would rather play in the States.” The two other point-guards are Anthony Strickland and Tyree Murray. Strickland played last year in the Canada Basketball League and averaged over 16 points per game. Murray played at Cal State- San Marcos. Former Montana State-Billings player, Leon Sutton a former #1 draft pick in the Canadian League, brings stability and drive from his guard position. The three centers vying for starting jobs, Luke Cochrane, Joel Feigler and ‘Slim McGee bring a variety of upside to the paint. Cochrane is bulky (6’10”) and takes up a lot of room in the paint. Feigler (6’10”) is smooth around the basket could play a power-forward position. McGee, who played pro ball in El Salvador, is 6’11”, thin with a huge arm span and blocking abilities. Human dynamo, Spencer Mathis who played at Las Vegas’s Valley High School, Northern Colorado and pro ball in Argentina, should be a crowd favorite with his enthusiasm on the court. Forward Larry Johnson Jr. has a great pedigree being the son of former UNLV great Larry Johnson, at 6’6” is smooth and could be a swing player. Other players making the squad are forwards Jarvon Johnson, Jordan Hill, J.J. Mina and Dominic Shuler. Two other guards Jamal Peterson and Leonard Mitchell will be battling to make the final cut.
Coach Mokeski and his staff will have only two weeks to mold a team before tip-off against the Vancouver Knights on Jan. 12 in the Rising Star Gym.