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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Successful weekend for Wildcats in NBA

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Rebecca Noble/Arizona Summer Wildcat


Coach Sean Miller signals instructions to his team during Arizona’s 68-60 win against Xavier in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament in the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif., on March 26. The 2015 NBA Summer League will feature four Wildcats from last season’s team.  

Arizona basketball likes to pride itself as “A Player’s Program” behind a strong cast of past, current and future athletes. Over the holiday weekend all three stages were on display.

Across the world in Heraklion, Greece, Arizona head coach Sean Miller guided the United States Men’s U19 team to a FIBA World Championship on Sunday, July 5.

The Americans defeated Croatia in overtime 79-71 during the gold medal game. Incoming Arizona guard Allonzo Trier scored seven points in 14 minutes.

Trier, who is expected to be the Wildcats’ top freshman this season, averaged just under nine points in the tournament.

As for Miller, the UA coach has now earned a gold medal as a player, assistant and head coach for USA Basketball.

Back in the homeland, a handful of Miller disciples opened up play in the NBA Summer League.

Stanley Johnson, the 2014-15 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, began his professional career with the Detroit Pistons in stellar fashion. He scored 13 points in his debut Saturday and another 24 points on Sunday.

The No. 8 pick in last month’s NBA Draft, Johnson showed the Pistons why he was worthy of such a high selection.

In a 77-69 Sunday victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, Johnson fought through contact, displayed a refined floater and threw down a couple strong dunks to lead Detroit in scoring. He also added nine rebounds on top of three assists and a steal.

If Johnson keeps up this level of play, he could be on the fast track to earning a starting role with the Pistons come this fall.

Also participating in the Orlando Summer League is Johnson’s college teammate, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.

In his debut with the Brooklyn Nets—an 81-73 loss to Memphis—-—Hollis-Jefferson came off the bench to score nine points and record two steals in 25 minutes.

One of Hollis-Jefferson’s buckets came off a signature steal-and-score right before the first-half buzzer.

Johnson and Hollis-Jefferson were not the only former Wildcats to play well on the opening weekend.

Behind an improved jumper, Aaron Gordon impressed many in the NBA community by dropping 22 points in his first Summer League game with the Orlando Magic.

Gordon nailed shots from all over the floor, ranging from a step-back baseline jumper to a pair of makes from behind the arc. For those who remember Gordon’s one-year tenure in Tucson, those shots weren’t exactly in his arsenal back then.

The No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 draft also slammed home a characteristic alley-oop and recorded 18 rebounds.

If there was one flaw in Gordon’s summer debut, it was his 4-10 shooting from the free-throw line.

Maybe some things don’t change.

Another former top draft pick from Arizona made some news over the weekend as Derrick Williams agreed to a two-year, $10 million deal with the New York Knicks.

Williams is entering his fifth year in the NBA. Last season, he averaged just over eight points for the Sacramento Kings.

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Follow Ezra Amacher on Twitter.

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