This took Kristjan Sokoli back to his senior year at Bloomfield High School in New Jersey.
Sokoli, a 6-foot-5, 305-pound aspiring Seattle Seahawks offensive lineman, played some hoops there — and played in New Jersey’s state basketball tournament — after moving from Albania and before heading to the University of Buffalo on a football scholarship.
He was part of a Seahawks Celebrity Basketball Game at Timberline High School on Saturday. But apart from the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar-esque sky hook he drained, this was mostly an illustration of why some of these guys are playing — or hoping to play — for the Seahawks and not the Cleveland Cavaliers or Golden State Warriors.
“I could have finished a little better,” Sokoli admitted. “But the hook shot was on.”
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On the football field, Sokoli is working to convert himself from a college defensive lineman to an NFL offensive lineman.
It’s not like he’s trying to convert from a post player to point guard on the basketball court — but there’s still certainly a challenge to it.
“It’s going well, honestly,” Sokoli said. “It’s just tough mentally, just from a focal standpoint, trying to learn a new position. Footwork is the biggest thing. It’s all in the first step.
“It’s tough to learn in the beginning, but once you pick it up — it’s football.”
Sokoli displayed some of his versatility on the basketball court Saturday — calling timeouts in key situations, taking over as his team’s coach, and even trying some point guard.
Cassius Marsh is going through a similar position switch, trying to crack the Seahawks starting defense as an outside linebacker to replace Bruce Irvin — despite being drafted two years ago as a pass-rushing defensive end. Before that, Marsh had entered to UCLA as a near 300-pound defensive tackle.
But, fortunately for him, he’s not trying to convert to a basketball player. Between his bricks, and the stonelike hands of Sokoli and fellow offensive lineman Terry Poole, this game had more plays worthy of the “SportsCenter” Not Top 10 than the actual Top 10.
Rookie long snapper Drew Ferris had a scoop shot stuffed out of bounds — and the defender didn’t need to jump.
“I’m going to try to get football down first,” Ferris said.
And you know it was sloppy when Timberline athletic director Nick Mullen was able to hit a couple of jump shots.
“This made me feel old,” Mullen said. “My legs are mush right now.”
Former Seahawks defensive back Jordan Babineaux had a nice game. He scored 37 points (not than anyone was keeping track) and was given a trophy as the MVP.
He hasn’t played since 2012, but Babineaux isn’t likely to talk about this MVP trophy in the same sentence as, say, his game-saving tackle of Tony Romo when the Dallas Cowboys botched a potentially game-winning field goal attempt in the 2007 playoffs.
“(The Warriors) gave me a call after Game 6, but I got tied up with some things,” Babineaux said. “So I just thought I’d let those guys have the glory.”
Babineaux seemed most impressed with Poole and receiver Kasen Williams, who soared to make a one-handed grab of one of Babineaux’s missed 3-point attempts and dunked it.
“The way he jumps … he can jump,” Babineaux said, his eyes wide.
Williams played three years of basketball at Skyline High School in Issaquah, but didn’t play his senior year to focus on football and track and field before doing both at the University of Washington.
“(UW basketball coach Lorenzo Romar) would always joke around about trying to get me to play,” Williams said. “But he was just playing around.”
The game was organized by Lacey resident Mike Goff, who said some of the proceeds would go toward Community Youth Services in Thurston County, as well as Black Hills Youth Football. Players signed autographs before, during and after the game.