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For These Bulldog Students, a One Hour Shot at Hoops Glory
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 6 years ago on
September 22, 2018

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A player shooting at a corner bucket in the North Gym during Fresno State’s open tryouts for the men’s basketball team looked most impressive Friday (Sept. 21).
He stood 6 feet, 8 inches tall with broad shoulders and a sculpted physique.
Of course, that was Nate Grimes. He’s already on the team. He showed up to get in a workout.

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David Taub
For seven other Fresno State students, this might have been the closest they get to NCAA Division I basketball.
New coach Justin Hutson brought the tradition of open tryouts with him from San Diego State. No one around the gym could remember when the last time such an event took place.
Hutson offered any student one hour of glory — to try out in front of Bulldogs staff. Of course, Hutson wasn’t there himself. He delegated the supervision of the tryouts to director of player development Titus Shelton and special assistant Nate Leal.
They put the hopefuls a variety of drills: layups, shooting, cones, a game of four-on-four (a staffer joined in to fill out the team), rebounding, and finally a brief full-court scrimmage.
For the most part, the shots didn’t fall, the footwork wasn’t fleet, and the ball-handling was less than D-I worthy. Nonetheless, Shelton appeared optimistic.
“You want a walk-on who you don’t know who is a walk-on,” the former San Joaquin Memorial and Cal Poly player said after practice. He and Leal will review practice film and discuss the players with the rest of the coaching staff.

Le Magnifique?


Yannick Koffi
Shelton declined to say who he liked in the practice, but he had to be impressed with the size of 6-8 Yannick Koffi.
I am more impressed by the fact that native of Orleans, France, came to Fresno State two years ago to study business without speaking a lick of English. He enrolled in an immersion program and picked it up in three months.
Speaking with him, I barely detected any accent. He followed a cousin to Fresno State and is studying entrepreneurship.
“My goal is to play basketball. I’ve been waiting two years,” said Koffi, who played organized basketball in his home country.

Ol’ Number 8

Richard Bates warmed up on the court, confusing some of the staff about why he was there. Maybe he was a straggler from an earlier pick-up game?
Wearing a basic jersey with the No. 8, Bates stood out from the rest of the Bulldog-wannabees, mainly because he is his 40s. Bates didn’t want to reveal his exact age, but he enrolled at Fresno State to take liberal arts classes.
In a soft-spoken manner, he said he moved from Chicago, where he attended DePaul. He kept it to himself whether he played ball there, or if he had any eligibility left.
Unfortunately for Bates and a few others, they didn’t have their proper medical paperwork so they had to watch from the sidelines.

A Win Either Way


Justin Houts
Justin Houts, a 6-4 shooting guard out of Fresno Christian, felt his workout went well. Either way, he expects to be on the Bulldogs sideline this season.
That’s because the junior also serves as one of the team managers.
“This is my chance now. I’d rather have failure than regret,” the junior said after practice. “I’d figure I would work as hard as I could, come out, leave it all out on the court and see what happens.”
Grimes, watching from the corner of the gym, was unsure if any of the seven may become a teammate.
“If we find somebody … if you put in the hard work, you never know,” he said.
Besides, Grimes said he enjoyed what could become a new Hutson tradition.
“Coach Terry would not allow this!” referring to his old coach.
Fresno State player Nate Grimes watches the open tryouts.

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David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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