By the end of the eighth episode of the second season of GQ Studios and Netflix’s ‘Last Chance U: Basketball’, we’re left with a sinking feeling.
Is this it?
It feels like the end as the exit interviews play out face to screen and the ‘Coach Carter’ similar summaries of where everyone is now wraps everything up.
What a shame that would be.
2022 was an incredible year for hoops content on streaming services. Especially when it came to the world’s most famous one. Yet, closing out the calendar with ‘Last Chance U: Basketball’, the last show became as real as it got.
Proving once and for all that this ‘Last Chance’ franchise was more than just a football game. Touchdown to slam dunk, this is no spin-off.
‘U’ gives streamers more than a look through the grills of the lockers, but a real scouting report on just what it takes to make it in the game and life. Amazing action on-court and decadent direction is offset by the pain from the pandemic that punished those who couldn’t bask and play basketball in a bubble.
Coach John Mosley mostly had a new crew, but boy did it feel fond and familiar. “Family on three” like the leader who could motivate a church like he does his courtside congregation chants. With the compellingly candid Rob Robinson by Mosley’s side, the East Los Angeles College Huskies have enough bite behind that bark. Never giving up like assistant Ken Hunter. On himself, or his boys.
Their roster also reads like raw potential. The biggest of all being Bryan Penn Johnson. A 7-foot-11 center with an even higher ceiling. His young career has already had its pitfalls, but wait until you see why. Now, the sky’s the limit.
Josh Phillips shows the watching world how living with autism isn’t just an everyday struggle, but a “superpower” like Sports Illustrated ‘Sportskid of the Year’, young golfer Carter Bonas calls it.
Dezmond Washington, featured spinning a ball on his way to school in Netflix’s promotional photographs, is doing all of this for his son. Finding a different lane down the hardwood for a better way for his child.
Yet it’s the all heart, soft-spoken, hard charge taking Damani Whitlock and the relationship with his own father that strikes a chord as the guard steals the show and loses a tooth. Putting it all on the line, he is the team player coaches dream of. A gentle and tough soul, when he hears his father is stuck in a hurricane (don’t worry, he’s OK), your heart will be broken.
The voice of East LA, play-by-play announcer Dan Gudino even shows how hard it is to make it in media these days. Despite his hustle. The now instantly recognizable tones of the Huskies moonlights as an announcer for free. After his full-time factory job. As a matter of fact, he loses money. Yet his passion never runs dry.
Popular players Justin Gladley, DC Calip, Shemar Marrow, Brandon Wilson, and DJ Gilmore and of course Coach Mosley will return next season to run it back with ELAC.
Let’s hope Netflix and we do too.