In The Lab: Checking In From Orlando

By Justin Trujillo | January 30, 2021

Welcome! Today is the first of a series blog posts that will be featured on gsoswarm.com on the 2021 NBA G League single-site experience for the Greensboro Swarm. My name is Justin Trujillo and I am the Manager of Communications for the organization. I am with the team in Orlando for the upcoming 15-game season that is being held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort.

As I write this, I am in my final full day of quarantine on campus where all 18 teams participating are staying for the single-site. Tomorrow, once we clear quarantine health and safety review, we can begin training camp. It has been an exciting run-up and there is a lot to cover on (finally) being at cusp of playing basketball.

The NBA G League Returns
On January 8, the NBA announced that there would be a 2021 single-site with 18 teams opting in to participate. With game to begin in February, a lot of work had to begin to be prepared for getting and playing in Orlando safely. Since the announcement, the following has happened:

1. The Swarm drafted forward Admiral Schofield with the No. 1 overall selection in the NBA G League Draft. The former Tennessee Volunteer was with the Washington Wizards a year ago and with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the preseason. Fans should be excited to see what he can do in the Hornets up-tempo offensive scheme.

2. Hornets Assistant Coach Jay Hernandez was named Head Coach of the Swarm for the single-site. Hernandez is deeply involved with the organization’s player development program and will be able to help the young talent on the roster. He will be assisted by Norman Richardson and Evan Harville on the sidelines.

3. Joining the Swarm roster in the bubble on assignment is Vernon Carey Jr. and Jalen McDaniels. Additionally, the two-way players (Grant Riller, Nate Darling) are here with some familiar faces from last season (Kobi Simmons, KJ McDaniels, Jeff Roberson) and the newcomers (Ahmed Hill, Ray McCallum, Admiral Schofield). A quartet of players (Keandre Cook, Javin DeLaurier, Xavier Sneed, Kahlil Whitney) who were with the Hornets in the preseason will be on the roster too.

4. Greensboro opens the season on ESPNU against the Westchester Knicks (New York Knicks) affiliate on Thursday, February 11, at 3:00 p.m. ET. Opening on national TV is something the team is looking forward to. The full schedule can be found here.

With the formalities of playing out of the next step was making sure that teams arrived in Florida safe and health.

Quarantine, Quarantine, Quarantine
Our health and safety precautions began on January 13 and our first wave of quarantine as team started on January 20 in a hotel in Charlotte. We traveled to Orlando on January 27 and we have been quarantined in our hotel room since.

It has not been as difficult as I feared. Between team Zoom calls, my normal daily work and additional interaction with the league, my time has been similar to working at home throughout the pandemic. Our meals have been catered and brought to our doors – a lot of food for someone my size since the food is prepared for elite athletes. Not being able to leave the room and be active has also been a challenge, the hope is that conditioning won’t hold back players early on in the single-site.

It seems that most of our players brought some kind of video game console, with a lot of PlayStation 5 conversations and PSN ID’s being shared. Of course, we will dive more into how these guys spend their free time in Orlando in future posts.

Looking Ahead
With training camp opening, we are approximately 12 days away from the Swarm’s first game. Our practice’s will begin at 9:00 a.m. which should help the team prepare for the unusual schedule and game times. My next check in will be prior to the game on February 11.

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