Feb. 6, 2013
WASHINGTON - Not all college basketball players get drafted and immediately play in the National Basketball Association. For some, it may take hops and stops in different leagues and different countries. And when you get a chance to get recognized for your play, it makes things that much sweeter.
That's the case for two former Hoyas, DaJuan Summers (ex'10) and Henry Sims (C'12), who were both selected to play in the NBA Development League All-Star Game. The NBA D-League All-Star Game will be held on Saturday, Feb. 16 at Sprint Arena at NBA All-Star Jam Session at Houston's George R. Brown Convention Center. The game will air live on NBA TV at 3 p.m.
The two former Hoyas were among a group of NBA Development League's top-20 prospects. Summers is rated as the league's No. 6 prospect, while Sims is ranked No. 20.
Summers, who was selected by the Detroit Pistons in the second round of the 2009 NBA Draft, is averaging 19.5 points and 8.8 rebounds for the Maine Red Claws in Portland, Maine.
It's been a long road for Summers, who spent two years in Detroit, then went overseas to play in Italy and was back in the NBA with the New Orleans Hornets last year before landing with Maine.
"It wasn't too surprising because I know I've been playing well," Summers said over the phone from Maine. "But more than anything else, I'm just happy to have the opportunity to play. It's been tough for a couple of years between not playing, having some injuries and not getting consistent minutes."
Summers has taken advantage of the opportunity he's had in Maine, where he has helped to lead the Red Claws to a 17-10 record and first place in the East Division. "To see how all the things have worked out so far has been gratifying," Summers said. "Everyone knew I could shoot, but I've had the opportunity to work on my rebounding and my play-making ability and it's good to have the opportunity to show what I can do."
Though in just his first season as a professional since graduating, Sims went through NBA summer leagues, looked at chances to play overseas and was cut in training camp with the New York Knicks. The team sent him to the Erie (Pa.) Bayhawks, where he is averaging 14.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.
"I was actually surprised when I heard the news," Sims said over the phone after helping to lead Erie to a win on Wednesday afternoon. "It wasn't my goal, but it's a great honor. I was surprised because when I came here I wasn't thinking about being an all-star, I just wanted to get better. They (the Knicks) sent me down here for a reason and no matter whether it was rebounding or defense, I just wanted to take advantage of the opportunity."
Like anyone playing professionally, both have a dream of playing in the NBA. Sims said he's learned that the road "It's different, especially from college," he said. "We're riding commercial, taking connecting flights and have a lot of bus rides. But I came here with a goal and my goal hasn't been reached yet. I'm still working and this is giving me the opportunity to continue to work hard in order to reach it."
Summers has had the chance to play in the NBA, but knows the road isn't always smooth. "I look at every game as a chance to show what I can do," he said. "I don't think people really understand the journey of a basketball player. It's not as simple as going to college, getting drafted and playing in the League. Some guys have to work for it and I appreciate the opportunity to play right now and extend my career."