You'll never guess what this Long Beach native found his niche in


Growing up, Tyquan Scott didn’t really like basketball. He mostly played football, and did so until high school.

When he graduated from middle school and went on to Long Beach High, he decided to give basketball a try. He spent his first year playing power forward and center for the junior varsity team. He did so well that he played on the varsity squad for three years.

After finishing high school in 2014, Scott spent a year at Redemption Christian Academy, a prep school in upstate Troy, where all of the boys wanted to play basketball. Then he attended Herkimer College for two years, where he was a standout player. Scott scored 1,000 career points and was named conference player of the year.

Fast-forward to earlier this year. Scott, 27, was living in Lindenwold, New Jersey. Out of nowhere, one of his friends from prep school reached out to him about a potential opportunity to play “basketball.”

“One of my friends, who I haven’t spoken to in years, hit me up randomly, saying his agent told him about an opportunity,” Scott recounted. “I got in contact with his agent and sent him some of my highlights. He liked what he saw, and he started telling me about the sport. I saw some videos and thought it was insane.”

The sport he learned about was SlamBall.

SlamBall is sort of like basketball. Players need to put a basketball into the net by shooting, dunking or laying it in, just like on the court. The difference? Players wear pads and bounce on trampolines. You can also slam into other players, as long as they’re dribbling the ball.

SlamBall made its television debut in 2002, on The National Network, which later became Spike TV and is now the Paramount Network. Soon afterward, former Philadelphia 76ers owner Pat Croce signed on as a partner. Six teams, all based in Las Vegas — the Bouncers, Diablos, Mob, Rumble, Slashers and Steal — played in the inaugural season.

The league dissolved in 2003, and then resurfaced in 2008 for one more season. It failed again before making a comeback in China from 2012 to 2016. This year is its first back in the United States.

Scott was intrigued — and a little scared — but he wanted to try it. He had been playing basketball overseas, in Indonesia, for a few years. This gave him a chance to stay in the states and continue to play some form of the game.

“I’m the type of person that when I put my mind to something and I’m really bought in, I lock into it,” Scott said. “When I look to my left and right, I want to be better than that guy. I had just never been on a trampoline before.”

He got another call in May, offering him a tryout. He said yes. He left for training camp in Las Vegas a few weeks later.

Just under 100 people tried out. Scott was one of the “super 24,” a select group that was invited to start the tryout and learn about the sport before the others. They initially didn’t even learn how to play, just how to move.

“All that consisted of was really just learning how to jump and learning how to land,” Scott explained. “We initially didn’t learn how to play the game, and we didn’t even touch a basketball. We would literally just go through the motions and learn how not to be scared.”

The training camp lasted a few weeks, and there were some scrimmages toward the end so the coaches could see the prospects in action. Just 56 players made the cut, and Scott was one of them.

The players were all drafted on June 28. There are eight teams, again, all in Las Vegas — the Lava, Buzzsaw, Rumble, Mob, Wrath, Slashers, Ozone and Gryphons. Scott was drafted with the second pick of the first round by the Buzzsaw. The players had a few more weeks of practice with their teams before the season started July 21.

Once the season began, Scott immediately felt the energy from the fans, who crowded the Cox Pavilion on the campus of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

“The crowd gets into it — it’s great atmosphere, it’s electric,” Scott said. “It’s the best sport in the world. It’s a sport that people are just getting used to seeing. We’re just dribbling, hitting, pushing, shoving and dunking 20 feet in the air. It draws people’s attention, and it’s not a long game.”

The games are 20 minutes long, with four five-minute quarters. Four of each team’s seven players are in action at a time. What would be the 3-point line in the NBA is a 4-point line in SlamBall. If a player shoots and scores in front of that line or jumps on the trampoline and scores, it’s 2 points.

One of the most unique aspects of the game is the procedure when there’s a foul. When a player is fouled in basketball, he or she shoots free throws. In SlamBall, the player who is fouled starts on one end of the court and runs — or jumps — down the court and tries to dunk the ball, while the player who committed the foul tries to block him.

This season was short, since it was yet another reboot of the league. Each team played just 18 games, starting on July 21 and ending on Aug. 17, and the Buzzsaw finished third, with nine wins and seven losses. Scott expects the league to do well and be around for the foreseeable future, with next season being substantially longer.

“If you like basketball, football or hockey, you’re going to like to watch this, because it’s all that put together,” Scott said. “I know the season’s over already, but definitely keep eyes peeled, because there’s going to be a whole lot of exciting things coming.”