Former Triangle-area college players highlight NBA’s Summer League

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May 08 2021 03:00 pm

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The NBA released the schedule for the 15th annual Summer League, usually a showcase of recently drafted talent getting their first taste of NBA action. We’ll get to see a few former guys who starred for Triangle-area teams, which should be exciting for local fans.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 20: (L-R) NBA Draft prospects Coby White, Zion Williamson, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Ja Morant and De’Andre Hunter stand on stage with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver before the start of the 2019 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 20, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

The MGM Resorts Summer League opens with all 30 NBA teams, including the Chinese and Croatian National Teams playing four preliminary games each. The event tips off with 10 games on Friday, July 5 and will continue through Monday, July 15 at the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). Last year marked the first year all 30 NBA teams competed in the Summer League.

Summer hoops actually start on July 1 with the Salt Lake City Summer League and California Classic, but the three-day affairs are not a part of the official MGM Resorts NBA Summer League.

Photoshop graphic of RJ Barrett & Zion Williamson
Credit: Caslee Sims

With Duke’s Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett being selected No. 1 (Pelicans) and No. 3 (Knicks), respectively, it’s no surprise the two former teammates and top picks will open up their careers as opponents when the Summer League kicks off on July 5 at 9:30 p.m. in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Shaw University alum Amir Hinton was signed by the Knicks as an undrafted free agent. Hinton, the CIAA’s Player of the Year this past season and first-team Division II All-American, led Division II hoops in scoring with 29.4 points per game.

Hinton will look to make an impact alongside Barrett as the rookies try to find their way in the NBA.

6 local players selected in first round of 2019 NBA Draft

UNC alums Coby White (7th pick to Chicago), and Cameron Johnson (11th pick to Phoenix) will also play on July 5. White’s Bulls will face-off against the Los Angeles Lakers at 7:30 p.m., while Johnson’s Suns will meet the Denver Nuggets in the nightcap at 11:30 p.m.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 20: Coby White poses with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after being drafted with the seventh overall pick by the Chicago Bulls during the 2019 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 20, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

The two drafted Tar Heels will not get to play one another before the Summer League’s annual tournament begins on July 12, but their teams will surely match up in the regular season, and possibly in the summer tourney.

However, White and the Bulls will meet Williamson’s Pelicans on Monday, July 8 at 9:30 p.m. As a Tar Heel, White averaged 13.6 points in three games vs. Williamson’s Blue Devils. An injury in the first minute of the first matchup between UNC and Duke only allowed Williamson to play one full game vs. the Tar Heels, and he made the most of the opportunity.

Williamson scored 31 points on 13-for-19 from the field in a conference tournament win.

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – MARCH 15: Coby White #2 of the North Carolina Tar Heels drives to the basket against Zion Williamson #1 of the Duke Blue Devils during their game in the semifinals of the 2019 Men’s ACC Basketball Tournament at Spectrum Center on March 15, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Two other Tar Heels were signed via undrafted free agency less than 24 hours after the NBA Draft. Luke Maye, UNC’s double-double machine, inked a deal with the Milwaukee Bucks while two-way talent Kenny Williams signed with the San Antonio Spurs.

The pair were members of Carolina’s 2017 NCAA championship team and won at least a share of ACC regular season titles in 2016, 2017, and 2019. They were a part of 121 wins over their four seasons in Chapel Hill.

NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 07: Luke Maye #32 of the North Carolina Tar Heels and Kenny Williams #24 of the North Carolina Tar Heels dribble with the ball in the second half during the second round of the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament at Barclays Center on March 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Both players bring unique skillsets to teams that could very much use them. Maye’s ability to stretch the floor with his shooting to go with his relentless rebounding prowess could prove valuable to the Bucks should he stick with the team. Meanwhile, Williams’ knockdown shooter ability along with his defensive potential is a skillset that every team in the league covets. The Spurs needed someone like Williams after the team ranked in the bottom half in defensive rating this past season.

Johnson and Williams will get to play against one another on July 10 in the lone matchup between Tar Heel rookies. Williams’ career will kick off earlier than his Carolina teammates as the Spurs face-off against the Cavaliers on July 1.

Barrett and Hinton’s Knicks get Johnson’s Suns on July 7 at 9:30 p.m.

The third first-round product for the Blue Devils, Cameron Reddish (10th to Atlanta), and UNC’s third first-round product, Nassir Little (25th to Portland), will also get to put in work in the NBA Summer League.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 20: Nassir Little poses with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after being drafted with the 25th overall pick by the Portland Trail Blazers during the 2019 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 20, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Little’s Trailblazers will begin the defense of their summer league title against the Pistons on July 6 at 3:30 p.m. The Pistons drafted another Duke alum in the 2018 NBA Draft in Luke Kennard. Whether Kennard will play or not has not been announced yet.

Reddish’s Hawks will see Maye’s Bucks on Saturday, July 6 at 5 p.m.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 20: Cam Reddish reacts after being drafted with the tenth overall pick by the Atlanta Hawks during the 2019 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 20, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Marques Bolden is another Duke alum looking to make his mark in the NBA. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Bolden reached an undrafted free agent deal shortly after the draft.

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY – FEBRUARY 12: Marques Bolden #20 of the Duke Blue Devils shoots the ball against the Louisville Cardinals at KFC YUM! Center on February 12, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Bolden will get to show off his talents against Coby White on July 7 at 7:30 p.m. Conversely, Bolden and Williamson may take a few possessions to guard one another when the Cavaliers and Pelicans meet on July 10 at 7:30 p.m.

Other Notables:

N.C. State Wolfpack standout Torin Dorn has yet to be picked up as an undrafted free agent, but his ability to contribute in multiple areas of the game may earn him a chance at some point this year. The 6-foot-5 guard/forward averaged 14 points and 7.2 rebounds per game for the Wolfpack last season.

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY – JANUARY 24: Torin Dorn #2 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack shoots the ball against the Louisville Cardinals at KFC YUM! Center on January 24, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Jalen Lecque, who signed to play for N.C. State, opted against the opportunity and put his name in the hat for the 2019 NBA Draft. Despite not hearing his name called, the athletic guard inked a deal with the Suns via undrafted free agency. The two-year guaranteed contract he signed gives him a chance to compete with draftee Ty Jerome (UVA, 24th pick) for the Suns starting point guard role, a spot that they haven’t had much consistency at for some time.

Lecque will team up with Cameron Johnson, hoping to capture the NBA Summer League championship.

NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 18: Jalen Lecque #13 of Team Stanley walks on the court prior to the game against Team Ramsey during the SLAM Summer Classic 2018 at Dyckman Park on August 18, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Cody Martin, the NC State Wolfpack turned Nevada Wolfpack star was drafted in the second round of the NBA Draft to the Charlotte Hornets. The Mocksville, N.C. native will get to return to the Tar Heel State to begin his college career.

Martin didn’t provide more of a statistical output than twin brother Caleb, but the Hornets took a chance on the smooth, play-making wing who has potential to be a good defender in the NBA. Cody may not play much this year but could spend time in the Hornets G-League system in Greensboro.

Caleb Martin has yet to get a chance at the NBA level but, his time is coming.

The aforementioned Cody Martin will get to face off against former ACC foe Kenny Williams when his Hornets meet the Spurs on Sunday, July 7 at 3:30 p.m. The Hornets will also play again Coby White and the Bulls on July 10 at 5 p.m.

RENO, NEVADA – MARCH 09: Cody Martin #11 of the Nevada Wolf Pack cuts off a piece of the net after beating the San Diego State Aztecs 81-53 and winning the Mountain West Championships at Lawlor Events Center on March 09, 2019 in Reno, Nevada. (Photo by Jonathan Devich/Getty Images)

Didn’t go to college here, but still from the Triangle:

Chris Clemons of Campbell University, located in the Triad part of the state, is an alumnus of Millbrook High School in Raleigh. The bucket-getter ranks third in all-time scoring for NCAA Division I basketball.

Many scouts thought he’d get taken as a second-round pick, but not hearing his name called was not the end of his immediate NBA dreams as the Houston Rockets signed him to an undrafted free agency deal. Could he be the heir apparent to incumbent Rockets point guard and North Carolina native Chris Paul? Time will tell.

Nov 24, 2018; Washington, DC, USA; Campbell Fighting Camels guard Chris Clemons (3) attempts a shot against the Georgetown Hoyas during the first half at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Clemons and the Rockets will play Little and the Trailblazers on July 7 at 10 p.m.

To view the entire NBA Summer League schedule, click here.

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