ABA Tryout Review: Maryland NightHawks — Lancaster, PA & Bowie, MD

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The Nighthawks had an open tryout at some high school in Lancaster, PA only a few weeks after my college graduation. The tryout started at 8 am; I remember going to sleep at 9 the previous night and barely being able to close my eyes due the the excitement (I also kept checking the voicemail on my phone since i hadn’t paid the bill and feared it being shut off at any minute). I drove the 3 hours to the tryout on Saturday morning and found three other players trying out. Three, total.

There were two other Black guys, both fresh out of college just like me (I don’t remember their schools), both guards in the 6-foot range. There was one white guy, about 6’5″, who was terribly out of his league even in a 4-person workout for a semi-pro basketball team. he wheezed out of the workout 2minutes into a full-court 2-on-2 drill we did. He walked out of the gym with his mother (girlfriend?) and never came back, leaving us with three people.

We did some shooting drills, rebounding, dribbling, passing, etc… nothing ground-breaking. There were more coaches/ front office people there than actual players and I could read their lack of enthusiasm at the situation on their faces. The disappointing turnout led the coaches to extend the three of us an invitation to their next tryout (with the $150 fee waived) two weeks later… Which was attended by three players (including me). Finally the Nighthawks had a tryout in Bowie, Maryland (where the franchise eventually sprung roots and stayed). There were over 100 players at this one, with local newspaper coverage and all. Some good players too, If I recall.

i never ended up playing for the Nighthawks — playing in the ABA at the time required you live in the are of the team, and neither I nor the franchise could’ve afforded to move me to Maryland, pay my living costs, and a salary. But the three camps were a fun way to get into the wild world of pro basketball camps.

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