‘Last Chance U’ Season 6 is a Slam Dunk

The focus switches to college basketball in time for March Madness

Just in time for March Madness, Netflix rolled out its sixth season of Last Chance U, the riveting docuseries that explores the little-known universe of junior college athletics. During its first five seasons, LCU chronicled three football teams. This time around, the LCU switched to basketball and chronicled the season of the East Los Angeles College’s team, otherwise known as ELAC. The change is for the better, as LCU is as captivating (and bingeable) as ever.

LCU Season 6 is what you won’t see in March Madness.

While ELAC is in L.A., it’s far from the glamour of Hollywood. ELAC’s head coach, John Mosley, is at the center of everything. He’s the team’s head coach and spiritual adviser, not necessarily in that order. When he’s not coaching, Mosley is a preacher at his church.  When Mosley does preach to his players, sometimes with the fervor of a televangelist, they listen because he genuinely cares. For a nice chunk of the season, Mosley’s eyes are wet. Of course, Mosley wants to desperately win games. Even more than this though, Mosley’s mission is for his players–all Black Americans except for one–to earn college scholarships.  Winning a state championship will provide the best platform for this to happen. People have told stories like this countless times, but LCU puts a fresh, raw spin on it.

As usual, LCU focuses on just a few players. Guard and team captain Deshaun Highler has the confident swagger of an All-American baller. However, Highler is fragile. He walked on at the University of Texas El Paso and earned a scholarship, but the school rescinded it following a coaching change. Tortured and grieving the loss of his recently deceased mother, Highler’s driven more than ever.

No one seems to question who ELAC’s most talented player is. Joe Hampton, a 6’8” center/forward, was where the ELAC players want to be. After Oak Hill Academy, a well-known basketball powerhouse, Hampton made his way to Penn State, but never played there. At ELAC, perhaps his last opportunity, Hampton is on the verge of blowing it with his volatile nature.  More than once, Hampton abruptly walks off the court to retreat to the locker room for a private primal scream session and perhaps to throw a chair or two. In perhaps the best pep talk of this season–and there’s no shortage of good ones–ELAC’s assistant coach, Ken Hunter, a soft-spoken, wise paraplegic, convinces Hampton to return to court and finish his day.

In past seasons, Last Chance U has spent ample time in the academic realm, often filming the players as they attend (and often struggle in) the classroom. In LCU’s first season, unforgettably, academic advisor Brittany Wagner reminded her players to bring pencils to class. This season, there’s very little if any time spent in the classroom. Perhaps the ELAC academics objected to being filmed. Regardless, it’s not terribly missed. When ELAC’s season concludes, Mosley is teary but so is everyone else. The ELAC players know that they’re losing an authentic, caring coaching staff and bidding farewell to a life-altering experience. As ELAC assistant coach Rob Robinson states, it was a heck of a ride. Agreed.

 

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Jon Hart

Jon Hart is the author of Man versus Ball: One Ordinary Guy and His Extraordinary Sports Adventures. He holds the Citi Field record for hawking the most pretzels during a single game.

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