Almost on His Way to Israel, Tryston Lawrence Found His NBA G League Opportunity

By Jacob Withee | May 31, 2019

Tryston Lawrence had done all of the groundwork. He had been around the world as a player, started developing guys while still playing himself, had made connections with NBA personnel, and had paid his dues coaching college and overseas. He was just getting set to take on a big opportunity coaching in Israel before an even bigger one came along.

“It was between taking the opportunity to go to Israel and actually coach at Maccabi [Tel Aviv],” Lawrence said. “It was a good opportunity because obviously it’s a EuroLeague level team, but I’d been dying to get my foot in the door in the NBA and the development league, so I took this opportunity over it.”

Lawrence said he was very close to taking the job with Maccabi Tel Aviv and teaming up with former Northern Arizona Suns forward Johnny O’Bryant. That was before he linked back up with NAZ Suns head coach Bret Burchard, who he’d known for a couple of years already.

So, Lawrence landed the NAZ Suns job as their player development coach, a perfect fit for the 30-year-old. Player development has been his focus for years, even during his professional playing days, the last year of which he knew he wanted to coach fulltime.

“I had been training probably the whole year before that as far as training players,” Lawrence said. “I started to fall in love with it and fall out of love of playing. I was in my last season professionally and it was about halfway through the season and I realized I didn’t want to do it anymore, because I was more concerned with the guys who I was working with back home than I was with my own game.”

After he was done playing, the Greensboro, North Carolina, native took a player development coaching job at North Carolina A&T State University for a year. Then, Lawrence said he “linked up” with Chris Paul, who according to Lawrence “opened up a lot of doors” for him in the coaching realm. That connection eventually led to him becoming the head coach for the Kaohsiung Truth in Taiwan, part of the ASEAN Basketball League.

This summer, Lawrence is continuing his player development role on the side, helping guys prepare for the NBA pre-draft process as each prospect hopes to be drafted. He’ll work with athletes at Powerhouse Hoops in Phoenix until June, when the draft process ends. After that, he doesn’t have a concrete plan for now, but know that the NAZ Suns will always have a special place in his heart whether he’s back or not.

“I enjoyed my time out here in Prescott,” Lawrence said. “I’m definitely going to be a lifer with the Suns with them here next year and I enjoyed being here. If I am here next here, look for it to be a lot different.”