May 2, 2012

Wanamaker Going With the Dream

Filed under: Alumni,Basketball,Good — Chas @ 10:58 am

If you are a senior who goes undrafted by the NBA, the odds are stacked heavily against making it. Maybe there’s a chance in the summer leagues, but more likely you would find yourself either playing in the NBDL trying to get a crack. Maybe scoring the occasional 10-day contract because injuries have piled up to such a degree at the parent club that they need a body, or the team is trying so hard to tank they bring up guys who they figure can’t compete.

The smart play is to immediately look to the overseas leagues to start making money. Earn a good living for a while playing the game you love. You can earn a much better rate of pay, and one would like to hope start saving some to plan for the future. Trying to crack the NBA is more dream.

You do it, because when you were a kid playing. Whether in high school, college or even on the street; you dreamed of suiting up for your team in the NBA. To play on what is the biggest stage. Where everyone could see you play. Even if you are on the fringe of the NBA, making the leauge minimum as opposed to a bigger deal you could get in Europe or Russia.

Brad Wanamaker knows getting to the NBA is not as likely, but he’s going to stick with the poor pay of the NBDL a while longer.

Wanamaker knows sooner or later that he’ll have to make a decision on whether to chase the money or the dream of playing in the NBA.

“I’m only 22, and I feel like I have a lot of basketball ahead of me,” Wanamaker said. “I have a lot of time to make money. Right now, I’m still chasing my dream.”

He even left playing overseas to join the NBDL Austin Toros after the lockout ended for this year.

His squad won the NBDL title and Wanamaker came on strong by the end. In the final two championship games that the Toros won, Wanamamer had 33 points, 11 rebounds, 7 steals and 10 assists. Just like his time at Pitt. He did a little of everything.

Luckily, Wanamaker is not locked into just the Spurs for the summer league. He has been invited to play on their team, but he will choose a team on his terms.

Spurs general manager Danny Ferry, who asked him to leave Italy to play for the Toros, has offered him a spot in San Antonio’s entry in the NBA summer league. Wanamaker has offers from a few other NBA teams as well, but he is going to wait until after the NBA draft in late June before deciding which opportunity is best.

In the meantime, he’ll return home to Philadelphia soon before coming back to Pittsburgh, where he will reunite with some former teammates for workouts this summer at Petersen Events Center.

He and several other former Pitt players including Gary McGhee and Gilbert Brown are also expected to take part in the Greentree summer league.

The fact that so many former players now come back to Pitt in the offseason is such a positive change.

While they’re training, they will mentor Pitt’s current players. It’s become a tradition for former Panthers to return every summer, and it’s one of Jamie Dixon’s proudest accomplishments.

When Dixon took over as head coach in 2003 former players didn’t come around very often. Now dozens of former players make their way back to campus every summer.

“Guys did it before me,” Wanamaker said. “Levance Fields is a guy I look up to. We kept in contact throughout the season. He did the same thing for Tray Woodall. He’s a guy we all look up to.

“I only feel like it’s right for me to pass on my knowledge to the younger guys.”

Make no mistake, Wanamaker and Brown could stay closer to home and play against better competition in Philly for summer league games. Same with Aaron Gray. McGhee could probably find a better summer league in Indianapolis or even Chicago. Fields and others from NY and NJ could as well. They come back to Pitt because they loved their time at Pitt, and they still feel connected and welcome.

Tradition is built this way. By the players themselves coming back and connecting to the present team.

What is the typical salary for development league ?
Kid has a good head on his shoulders it seems.
I wonder if chevy troutman had similar offers to come back and try out for the nba. Even though he is tearing it up in europe.. and is on energy drink cans.

(selfless promo – reminder my blog/podcast is giving away a free xbox game mass effect collectors edition)

Comment by Snala The Panther 05.02.12 @ 11:34 am

The Pitt players coming back to play in the summer league in Greentree and mentor the younger players. That’s pretty cool if you think about it.
I had heard that Pete Dimperio at Westinghouse High School used to keep some of his former football players involved as volenteer assistantants. Those kind of things are special, it creates a great enviroment and can make all the difference.

Comment by Justinian 05.02.12 @ 11:36 am

Can Pitt football do something like this? I know some former Pitt players come back for big games and Spring practices, but is there a way to get Pitt players in the NFL and former greats to be more involved in some way that creates something special and could even be used to attract recruits?

Would Revis, Fitz and Shady be allowed to participate at summer camps as mentors/coaches?

When kids realize all the great players to have come from Pitt, shouldn’t Pitt be a destination school?

Why does State Penn have kids growing up as Nitter fans and high school football players jumping at their offers even after the Pedophile scandal/cover-up while Pitt seemingly has very few top athletes interested in the program?

State Penn and Pitt have roughly the same win/loss record over the past decade. It’s not like State is tearing up the Big 10. Is it because of the Nitter Kool Aid? Is it because only 30k fans show up at our off campus stadium?

Comment by TX Panther 05.02.12 @ 12:04 pm

Does Blair ever come back for the summer league stuff? He may have a booked schedule until late june if his Spurs win enough. He’s the biggest “star” the tema has and I’d really like to see him and Adams interact.

Oh and good for Wannamaker. His improvement as a player seems to continune trending upward, just like during his 4yrs here.

Comment by PantherP 05.02.12 @ 12:10 pm

Blair came back last summer i believe

Comment by TonyC 05.02.12 @ 12:21 pm

Blair played once in Greentree last summer. He came straight from the airport and by his own admission hadn’t touched a basketball in two months (since the Spurs had gotten bounced early from the NBA playoffs).

He looked rusty. Some skinny 6’9″ kid who played D2 basketball and was playing overseas someplace SCHOOLED HIM. I think his name is Donaldson?

In general, the former players make an appearance, but aren’t regulars.

Comment by boubacar aw 05.02.12 @ 12:49 pm

NBDL salaries are MUCH lower than what these guys could make abroad. I have heard they pay anywhere from $15-25K per season. Peanuts.

Comment by boubacar aw 05.02.12 @ 1:05 pm

Playing is Europe isn’t a bad gig. You could be spending your time in Italy, Greece, or Spain and have a pretty nice life style in a beautiful country with a great climate. They play a good brand of basketball and the Europeans love baskeball. It wasn’t all that long ago, that we saw the Greek National team school the US team with LaBron James & company. They kicked our butts with give and goes and basic basic basketball.

Comment by Justinian 05.02.12 @ 2:31 pm

right, i forgot Blair came back for a game.

And remember people saying some no-names schooled him. This happens from time to time in unofficial games, but its pretty much always because guys like Blair arent going to try very hard since they need to protect themselves for the real games. Stakes way too high.

Dont mean to name drop, but this was fun. Back when i was still in grad school, during the summer between his Jr & Sr year (i think) I was playing at Trees during the summer and Jaron Brown came up so i got to play with him. One of the kids “crossed-over” Jaron and couldnt stop bragging about it. But Brown played at about 25% speed/effort the whole, not sure he broke a sweat and still scored at will (and only passed me the ball once, which i was totally ok with). He let the kid go on his ‘crossover’. The kid will brag about it but it doesnt mean anything at all. Same thing with the kid who allegedly schooled Blair.

Comment by PantherP 05.02.12 @ 4:53 pm

From my count, Levance, Gary, Gil, Brad, Jermaine, Mike Cook, and Biggs will all be around this summer.

Comment by Sta7ic 05.02.12 @ 6:30 pm

Where’s Kreider?

Comment by steve1 05.02.12 @ 8:37 pm

I think Wannamaker eventually plays in the NBA. The kid is only 22 and still getting better. All he needs is a chance and the confidence to know that he belongs. He is one of my favorite Pitt players. I loved his game and toughness.

Comment by omar 05.02.12 @ 9:17 pm

Omar, I think that’s right. And San Antonio in particular looks for tough players like Wanamaker.

Comment by velvil 05.02.12 @ 10:20 pm

these are the things that make it awesome to be a Pitt fan. These guys coming back and bridging the gap with the current players to pass on the knowledge. I also believe that ultimately both Wanamaker and Gil Brown play in the NBA. Wanamaker will always be one of my favorite Pitt players, just worked so hard to keep improving. These guys have really represented the university well.

Comment by Pitt Rob 05.02.12 @ 11:03 pm

Dan, we did it.

Comment by steve1 05.03.12 @ 6:42 am

Just to set the record straight — Blair was playing full speed in the game in Greentree last summer when he got schooled.

The kid that ate him up was far from a scrub. He’d been playing in Europe for years (think he played at Edinboro) and must have been a late developer.

There are plenty of really good players out there and luck and timing and connections have a lot to do with who makes an NBA roster.

If Blair faced Donaldson this summer, he’d probably get schooled again and that’s because Blair’s skills fit better into a very proscribed, defined role in an NBA game than they do into a free-wheeling summer league game.

Comment by hugh green 05.03.12 @ 8:13 am

The guy who “schooled” Blair was Jakim Donaldson, who has been a staple in the top Spanish professional league for years, which is the 2nd best professional basketball league in the world. Donaldson was also the MVP of the Green Tree league last year and has been a dominant player there for years. If Donaldson was a college player right now, he’d be one of the best 4’s in the Big East, clearly not a scrub. And BTW, Blair hadn’t played since the NBA Playoffs, literally came straight to Green Tree from the airport, and wasnt even playing at 50%.

Comment by SMF 05.03.12 @ 9:21 am

I played pickup with a few Pitt hoops players back in the day, including Curtis Aiken, and I have no doubt that players of his caliber generally take it easy on guys like me.

Comment by Ghost of Hornman 05.04.12 @ 6:21 pm

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