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