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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Ex-Cats play hungry in NBA Summer League


Tyler Baker/Arizona Summer Wildcat

Then-Arizona forward Stanley Johnson (5) grins as he moves to embrace then-Arizona guard TJ McConnell (4) during Arizona’s 80-52 win over Oregon in the Pac-12 Tournament at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nev., on March 14. McConnell is playing for the Philadelphia 76ers alongside No. 3 overall draft pick Jahlil Okafor in the NBA Summer League. 

From Rondae Hollis-Jefferson dropping 24 points for the Brooklyn Nets to T.J. McConnell dunking with the help of his teammates, this NBA Summer League has been very eventful for the former Wildcats.

Hollis-Jefferson started off so-so in his debut for the Brooklyn Nets as he racked up nine points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals in 25 minutes of action, but he has come in strong in his last couple games.

Against the Charlotte Hornets, he stuffed the stat sheet with 22 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and four steals, and on Saturday he added 15 points and nine rebounds in a one-point win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Although Hollis-Jefferson has excelled so far, the same cannot be said for the Nets as they have gone 0-5 in Orlando, Fla., with Cleveland being their lone win.

Detroit Pistons draft pick and 2015 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, Stanley Johnson has performed admirably so far in the Orlando Summer League with a stat line of 16 points, seven rebounds and two assists per game while earning all-tournament honors. He has even shown an improved shooting stroke, shooting 57 percent from the field and over 41 percent from the three.

While Johnson is trying to revive a franchise stuck in the mud, Brandon Ashley is attempting to make a roster on a team that won 60 games last season. The forward scored 15 points and grabbed five rebounds in 21 minutes in his debut. Through two games he’s contributed nine points and four rebounds each game for the team with the second most wins in the NBA last year behind NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors.

McConnell has been OK so far as he has appeared in four games for the Philadelphia 76ers D-League team including Saturday when he contributed zero points, two assists, two rebounds and two turnovers in 14 minutes. While McConnell is rebounding at a relatively high clip for a point guard at almost five a game, his shooting has plummeted while his turnovers have risen so far. Through July 11, the floor general with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3:1 is currently at 1:1 while shooting 34 percent from the field.

Not to be outdone by the rookie Wildcats, Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon has returned from injury to put on a show in the Summer League. The 2014 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year is averaging 21 points and 11 rebounds a game while shooting 50 percent from the field and, interestingly, almost as well from three-point range (50 percent) as from the free-throw line (52 percent.)

On a side note, it was also a good day for the 2009 Arizona Wildcats as Chase Budinger was traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Indiana Pacers, where he will team up with Jordan Hill to try and bring the Pacers back into the playoffs.

With the defending champions being coached by Steve Kerr and many Wildcats thriving so far in the league, “A Players Program” is backing up its claim so far.

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