JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
A senior airman with the 737th Training Support Squadron here was in Las Vegas for six days, but he wasn't there to check out the city's glamorous casinos and nightspots.
Instead, Joseph Easley was looking to accomplish a lifelong dream, earn a contract to play professional basketball.
Easley was one of 24 individuals looking to impress pro basketball scouts and officials at the Hoop Expo Pro Evaluation & Exposure Camp, July 13 and 14.
The expo gave aspiring collegiate and international level basketball players the opportunity to showcase their skills in hopes of obtaining contracts to play for the NBA Development League and overseas.
"It was two days of hard work and good competition," Easley, a basic military training receiving personnel specialist, said.
Easley, an All Air Force basketball player who played semipro basketball with the Corpus Christi Clutch this year, said experienced NBA trainers conducted the tryouts.
They had the prospects go through running drills to see who was in shape and ready to work. He felt he went to the Expo prepared for the challenges they threw his way.
Those challenges included running sprints where players had to touch nine lines in 35 seconds and shooting drills on the first day of camp.
Players split up into teams of two and scrimmaged against each other the next day.
When he wasn't on the court impressing the scouts, he had opportunities to mingle with NBA stars Vince Carter, Paul Millsap, and Lou Williams. He viewed a sample of how an NBA team practices to compete against elite level competition by watching the Atlanta Hawks summer league team practice.
"I am more determined than I've ever been (to make it at a pro level)," Easley said.
After this weekend, he could be one step closer to making it to the pros.
He said Expo officials told him they liked his game and to continue to be aggressive on both ends of the court.
"(Officials) said just keep working; you are not too far from making it," Easley said. "I took that as a sign that all the time that I put into the gym is paying off for me."
His commitment to making it at the pro level comes with very little rest.
Easley works Monday through Friday from 4:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. After his shift concludes, he runs at the Warhawk Fitness Center track for an hour and a half. He goes home to sleep before coming back on base around 10:30 a.m. to work on his game.
"If I had it my way, I would be working on my game 24/7, but I have a job to do and a country to serve," Easley said. "I got to take care of business, but I know with the little time I had, I made an impact.
"I'm just thankful to my leadership for being on board and supporting my dreams. Right now, we are just playing the waiting game (on my pro status)."
Expo officials are currently reviewing film of the two-day weekend to select the 20 best players who will earn pro-level contracts. Easley hopes to hear something back in the upcoming weeks.
"My goal is to be blessed with one of those contracts," he said. "I want to dedicate myself to a pro team just like I dedicated myself to the Air Force with the goal of making it to the NBA."