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.