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Long Island Nets take a look at 120 hoop hopefuls

Long Island Nets

It was a strange mix of all kinds of hoop addicts, but then it usually is at these G League tryouts.

There was Ed Fanning, a 52-year-old Huntington Station man who played point guard in high school and who wanted to show what he could still do, balding head, paunch and all.

“Self-gratification and accomplishment,” Fanning told Newsday when asked what he was looking for Saturday. “I set out to do something, and I was a little hesitant at first ... But you know what, you never lose touch of the game.”

There was Jaylen Morris, a 6’6” forward who just finished up his career at Division II Molloy College in Rockville Centre where he scored 1,600 points and won all sorts of Division II honors. The 22-year-old just wants a chance to fulfill a dream.

“Growing up, I always wanted to play professional,” he told News12. “So this is a step in the right direction and it's right around the corner from where I graduated college.”

There was Kenny Adeleke, a 6’9” center who was PSAL Player of the Year in the city —16 years ago— and wants to get off the road. Now 34, he played last year in Lebanon. A basketball vagabond, he’s also toiled away in Israel; Turkey (four times); Italy; China (twice); Ukraine (twice); Spain; the Dominican Republic; Uruguay; Venezuela (twice) and Puerto Rico. He even had a short stretch with the Springfield Armor when they were the Nets D-League affiliate. A Nigerian by birth, he’s played for that country’s national team too. That’s 13 countries on five continents if you’re counting.

"I’ve always driven by Nassau Coliseum,” Adeleke said. “So, it's something all guys that play that grew up in the city, they all want to play for a local team. So, it's a great opportunity.”

And oh yeah, there was Zach Marbury, younger brother of the Nets All-Star and a Coney Island legend himself. But at 37, he’s long past his prime. Like Adeleke, a contemporary on the Brooklyn high school scene, he too has played around the world.

All told, there were 120 players looking for a training camp invite at the one-day event on the LIU-Pace campus in Brookville. Ronald Nored, the Long Island coach, and Matt Riccardi, a Nets scout and Long Island’s assistant GM, were on hand to grade the hopefuls.

It’s not a complete fool’s errand. J.J. Moore, a Brentwood, Long Island product, parlayed last year’s tryouts into a contract with Long Island, then time in Israel and now Argentina. He told our Anthony Puccio how he grateful he was to be “playing for my city.”

Next step for the 120 will be training camp. Nored and Riccardi will pare the numbers down and pare them down again, inviting a few lucky ones to the team’s new training facility in New Cassel for a chance to follow Moore’s example.

For those who don’t make it, there will be disappointment, but as the 52-year-old Fanning noted, Saturday, it “was just an overall exhilarating experience, very satisfying.”