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Quickness Could Be the Key for Bryant to Pass His Toughest Test : Basketball: Former SCC point guard hopes his play in summer pro league will help him land a job.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Danin Bryant knows he is a longshot. Most professional basketball teams don’t beat down doors belonging to 5-foot-9 point guards.

Still Bryant, a former Southern California College player, dreams about getting his chance.

“The Clippers said they might invite me to camp,” said Bryant, who lives on a street called Clipper Court in Fairfield, Calif. “Maybe it’s fate if it works out that way.”

Rockford (Ill.), Rapid City (S.D.) and Fargo (N.D.) of the Continental Basketball Assn. also have contacted Bryant. He said he also will consider playing in Europe.

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“Right now, I have to sit back and wait for them to call me,” Bryant said.

Remaining idle doesn’t appear to suit Bryant.

As a player, Bryant never waits for defenders . . . he just drives past them.

“He is one of the quickest players on the West Coast, at any level,” SCC Coach Bill Reynolds said at the beginning of last season.

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Bryant’s forte is his playmaking, dribbling through defenses to create scoring opportunities for himself or teammates.

“In high school, I was more of a scorer,” Bryant said. “Now with all of these 6-9 and 6-10 guys to contend with, I’m mainly a passer.”

Last season, Bryant averaged 16.5 points and six assists while earning first-team All-NAIA District 3 honors for SCC. As a junior, Bryant averaged 7.8 assists, fifth best nationally in the NAIA.

After finishing his senior year at SCC in May, Bryant was looking for any opportunity to play professional basketball. Earlier this summer, he played in a pro league in Sacramento.

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“A lot of the Sacramento Kings--like Mitch Richmond, Spud Webb and Wayman Tisdale--played in that league,” Bryant said. “That’s where Don Sellers found me. He’s a former scout for the Clippers, and he told me about trying to play in Irvine.”

Bryant returned to Orange County in July to play in the ASICS Summer Pro League at UC Irvine. He opened some scouts’ eyes averaging 17.3 points and 6.3 assists while shooting 53% from the field.

Bryant also tried to show his leadership skills this summer.

As a senior in high school in 1990, Bryant led Fairfield Vanden High to the State Division IV championship game. But Oxnard Santa Clara, with Southern Section Division IV player of the year and future UCLA standout Shon Tarver, defeated Vanden, 56-38.

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This summer, Bryant’s team, Circuit City, made no championship charge, winning only one of seven games.

“It was a learning experience,” Bryant said. “It was frustrating sometimes because I’d break my man down and pass off to an open teammate, but then he would miss the shot.

“Hopefully, the scouts saw that I can be a playmaker. Since I went to a smaller college, people may not know about me. But the scouts know I can play. I just have to show that I can produce every day.”

Jerry Clark, a coach/agent who led the Orange County team to the free agent’s division championship for the second consecutive season at the Irvine league, agreed that Bryant faces an uphill battle.

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“He’s his best agent right now,” Clark said. “He just has so many more things to go through. If he gets invited to a CBA camp, he’ll have to go to a rookie camp and prove he deserves a tryout with the veterans.

“Then, he’ll have to survive another cut at the veterans camp. Another thing that’s tough is that most teams are looking for an experienced point guard.”

Summer provided some valuable experience for Bryant, and it took some time for him to adjust to confronting the players he has seen on television.

“I’ve always had posters of Magic Johnson, watched him play,” Bryant said. “But a week ago, I was playing in the same summer league as him. I’ve patterned parts of my game after Spud Webb, but there I was, playing against him in the summer league in Sacramento.

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“The first time I went up against him, it didn’t go too well. But the next time, I just played my game and did much better.”

And the summer league in Irvine provided Bryant with valuable insight just watching current NBA players.

“I saw Pooh Richardson and Mark Jackson play, and I have to develop the same confidence,” Bryant said. “They have the attitude that they can do anything, and there are no questions or doubts.”

Bryant’s only doubt is if anyone will take a chance on a small point guard from a small college.

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“Hopefully, I’ll be in camp in October,” Bryant said. “Somewhere.”


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