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Scouting the Inaugural WRNL Combine Invitees

After the NBA withheld an invite to their combine from me - WRNL's own writer/technically draftable BJSwanny - last month, we took a stand against the league's discriminatory and talent-ist behavior.

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

After jumping through the NBA's hoops to declare myself eligible for the draft in May, my phone has been understandably ringing off the hook. From former coaches (my dad) to Cap City commissioners (my boss at the Y), all the way to tee times with Stu Nezlek (OK that was my friend, not me, but even my posse is hitting it big), the hype has almost been too much to handle. Yet even with the weight of the WRNL fan base behind me, I still managed to be left off the list of the 60 invitees to the NBA Combine in Chicago.

In response, WRNL booked State Gym for an afternoon and invited an assortment of current and former athletes who fell victim to the same talent-based bias I did to showcase their skills. Since their workouts were closed to the public, we went through the trouble of providing a scouting report for some top performers.

Tyler Ellerman

Before his legacy was pushed out of the limelight by the likes of STUUUUU, Ellerman was the quintessential big, white bench-rider, and he didn't disappoint, recording a combine-best 396 claps per minute and a 9'1" standing high-five reach.

Royce White

While White already had a shot at the NBA with a 1st round pick and a guaranteed contract, the very nature of the NBA's combine put him at a disadvantage. However, Royce showed out as a top performer by holding all of his team interviews via Twitter from the comfort of his RV.

To Royce's agent: we will have to send you an invoice after your athlete polished off the entire tray of Honey Buns from the craft service table in between events.

Steele Jantz

Yes, we know, wrong sport, but don't tell Steele that. He caught wind of the event from a talking squirrel in northern Alaska, and we couldn't get him to leave or to stop throwing full court shots rolling against his arm a la Brett Favre. He ran the fastest 40 of the weekend, mostly due to Jantz being the only invitee to demand to run it. Then again, he was also the only athlete to lock his pet grizzly in a State Gym racquetball court while he competed.

D'Angelo Russell

Even though Russell averaged nearly 30 minutes a game for the Lakers in his rookie season this past year, he decided he needed a fresh start after falling out of favor with his LA teammates. At WRNL, we're more than willing to oblige and give someone a second chance, but we eventually had to ask D'Angelo to leave. Wearing a wire to the combine? Not cool man. And the GoPro strapped to his head wasn't as inconspicuous as he thought.

Justin Hamilton

Originally one of the first players on the docket to perform at the combine, Big Ham had something come up and requested we reschedule a workout closer to his Utah home. So we booked gym space in Baton Rouge. Same thing right?

Art Briles

Now with a lot more free time on his hands, Briles was easily one of the oldest athletes to show his face in a WRNL jersey. While Art started off hot showing great leadership abilities, his performances went downhill fast as he hid the ball under his shirt and denied the ball existed to begin with. When asked about his actions in a team interview, Briles said, "Ball? What ball? I didn't know about any ball."

Bernie Sanders

After his visit to Game 7 of the Western Finals, and anticipating his loss to Hillary Clinton in the primary, Bernie has taken to basketball to keep his campaign rolling. Sanders took his personal brand of socialism to the floor and dazzled as the combine's best pass first (pass only) point guard with range to four feet. While his age might be a concern for some teams, one scout said, "Hell, we've Perry Ellis on our draft board, and he's gotta be a decade older than Bernie."

Donald Trump

Not to be outdone by his Democratic counterpart, Trump took the court set on 'Making the Combine Great Again,' and showed off his ability to defend, not offend. One NBA representative was most impressed with the Donald's rim protecting aptitude. "His interior defense was amazing," said the anonymous scout. "He literally built a brick wall around the lane."