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Former Arizona Wildcats Azuolas Tubelis and Cedric Henderson Jr. sign with 76ers’, Cavaliers’ Summer League teams

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Amelia McAnear

Arizona guard Cedric Henderson Jr. plays in a game against ASU on Saturday, Feb. 25, in McKale Center. The Wildcats lost the game 88-89. 

Former Arizona men’s basketball players Azuolas Tubelis and Cedric Henderson Jr. are set to embark on their NBA journeys after signing with the Philadelphia 76ers and Cleveland Cavaliers Summer League teams, respectively. Despite going undrafted in the 2023 NBA Draft, both players have a chance to showcase their skills and prove their worth in the Summer League

Draft night didn’t unfold the way Tubelis had hoped, but the talented former Arizona big man is determined to make his mark in the league. Tubelis secured a two-way contract with the Philadelphia 76ers as an undrafted free agent. Tubelis now has a valuable chance to earn a spot on the 76ers’ roster during the Summer League in Las Vegas.

The 21-year-old Lithuanian decided to turn pro this spring after a successful three-year stint at Arizona. Despite the critics, Tubelis stands to benefit from his two-way deal, potentially earning a salary of $508,000 if it extends to the 2023-24 season. This opportunity allows him to fully dedicate himself to basketball, both financially and in terms of his development as a player.

Tubelis had an outstanding junior season for the Wildcats, leading the Pac-12 in scoring with an average of 19.8 points per game along with 9.1 rebounds per game. He showcased his abilities on the court and was even named the MVP of the Pac-12 Tournament in 2023. However, questions remain about his defensive efforts and shooting prowess, which likely deterred NBA teams from using a draft pick on him. Nevertheless, Tubelis has the chance to prove himself and show that he belongs among the best in the basketball world.

Henderson is set to make his mark in the NBA Summer League as he joins the Cleveland Cavaliers’ roster. While his participation doesn’t guarantee a fall training camp invitation from the Cavaliers, Henderson understands the importance of this opportunity to showcase his skills to scouts from the NBA and around the world.

The Summer League serves as a crucial trial for players like Henderson, who have yet to secure a permanent spot on an NBA roster. The 23-year-old guard/forward had a unique path to this point. He began his college career at Southwest Tennessee Community College, earning the title of Freshman of the Year in the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association. Henderson then transferred to Campbell University for three years, where he demonstrated his potential, including a standout performance against Duke University. Seeking further growth, he spent his final college season at Arizona, contributing to the team’s success and enhancing his versatility on the court.

Henderson took advantage of the NCAA‘s decision to grant an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic, starting in 20 of the 35 games for Arizona. He embraced a new role within the team and focused on improving his game, particularly his shooting and ball-handling skills. Despite his late-blooming progression, Henderson believes there is still untapped potential within him.

Arizona head coach Tommy Lloyd expressed confidence in Henderson, believing he has a promising professional career ahead. While the level of play he will ultimately reach remains to be seen, his abilities and determination make him a marketable player in various leagues around the world.

The Summer League is a vital stepping stone for these players, offering the chance to secure a spot on an NBA roster or make an impression that could lead to opportunities in other leagues. Tubelis and Henderson have the chance to chase their dreams and develop as professional athletes. The road ahead may be challenging, but they have the chance to seize this opportunity and continue growing as players as they take the next step in their basketball careers.


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