NBA Summer Leagues are starting up in Orlando and Las Vegas this week. In fact, the Orlando Summer League is in its second day. While they aren't the most glamorous settings to play in, both offer the chance for young players to make an impression upon NBA coaches, scouts and general managers that might be in attendance. Many players are fighting for jobs.
NBA Summer League offers fresh start for players
Former UIC center Scott VanderMeer will be playing with Tyler Hansbrough (above) on Indiana's summer squad.
For the college players from Chicago though the thing that the NBA Summer Leagues offer is a fresh start. I'm sure players, like former DePaul guard Dar Tucker, are happy to be playing meaningful basketball games again.
Tucker is playing with the Utah Jazz summer league team in Orlando. He already made an impact during his first game. Tucker, who went undrafted after leaving DePaul after his sophomore season, played more than 18 minutes and went 2-7 from the field. He scored seven points, grabbed six rebounds, dished out an assist and committed two turnovers. His 18:39 of playing time was the second most on Utah's roster.
Former UIC center Scott VanderMeer is also playing in Orlando. He's a member of the Indiana Pacers' Summer League team along with Tyler Hansbrough, Roy Hibbert and Josh McRoberts. VanderMeer played just 3:35 in his first game. He committed a turnover, missed a shot and got called for one foul. Playing on a team with such a big lineup he might struggle to find playing time.
The Las Vegas Summer League starts on Friday and three former Chicago college players will be playing in that league.
Deji Akindele is a 6'11" center that left Chicago State after his sophomore season in 2005. Since then he has played abroad, in the NBA Development League and with the Golden State Warriors. Akindele is playing on the Portland Trailblazers' team in Las Vegas.
Former DePaul forward Andre Brown has bounced around the CBA, D-League, Europe, Korea and made some short stops in the NBA since he declared for the draft in 2004. This summer he's playing on the Dallas Mavericks' team. Brown has played in 75 NBA games during the past three seasons, so he's just trying to stick in the league this time.
The player that might have the best chance of cracking a NBA roster thanks to a strong performance during the Summer League could be Othys Jeffers. Jeffers played at UIC and then transferred to Robert Morris. Last season he was named the D-League's Rookie of the Year after averaging 21 points per game and nine rebounds per game. This summer Jeffers is playing on the NBA D-League Select squad.
Hopefully all five of these players will play well and have a chance to further their professional careers at the next level.