Web series explores life of fictional hoops star

Sat, Mar 17

Jerome Jenkins was on his way. A son of Los Angeles, he had led UCLA to a Final Four appearance and appeared destined for the NBA Draft's lottery. But a freak injury pushed him to the sidelines, then to depression and drugs and, ultimately, the end of his career. Until now. After recovering, he wants a comeback -- one shot to make his hometown Lakers.

OK, so there is no real Jerome Jenkins.

But he is the central character in a new web series called "Pick N Roll," one that's making a go at "blurring reality and fiction," in the words of co-creator/director Josh Mitchell, using real-life teams and a story that very well could be true -- and one that doesn't focus exclusively on basketball.

Developed by L.A.-based Boston native Mitchell and screenwriter Tanner Grover (also from New England) the show aims for a real feel; former California high school hoops standout (and JuCo football player) Patrick Jemerigbe plays Jenkins, the opening shot of episode one purposely looks more like the intro to a workout tape than that of a scripted TV series. (Of course, this means "Pick N Roll" also features some themes and language that are certainly not for kids).

"We really want you to be a fly on the wall in this urban landscape when you're watching," Mitchell said. "I don't want it to be really contrived. I want to be it as raw and gritty as possible."

Mitchell said he's working with TV actors and basketball players to get them involved; Mitchell also has worked with Keith Closs, who himself saw his NBA career hurt by off-court behavior. So far the series has five episodes shot and four released, with Mitchell and Grover still developing future plot developments -- including, perhaps, an actual stint with those aforementioned Lakers.

And overall, they want to take this show as far as it can go, whatever that means.

"There's so much action and compelling drama that can go behind the trajectory of a young hoops star trying to make it in the NBA," Mitchell said.