The start of the Virginia Basketball season is right around the corner, and we are counting down the days until the Hoos welcome Towson to John Paul Jones Arena on November 6. The season starts in 29 days, and today we’re catching up with some familiar faces in Virginia Basketball history.
One of the added benefits of the Tony Bennett era is that there are far more Wahoos playing pro ball. In fact, the Hoos have had a player drafted into the NBA in the last five drafts. Although there are just four former Hoos currently playing in the NBA, another seven are playing pro ball overseas.
First we’ll take a look at the NBA guys, and then we’ll focus on the international guys. We’ll check in on all of these guys periodically as the season progresses.
(Players are listed alphabetically.)
Justin Anderson, Atlanta Hawks – Simba’s career has simply not progressed. Justin started his career getting regular minutes for a decent Mavericks team in 2015. He’s a strong defender on the wings, but he’s never developed much of an offensive game. Last year, he played in 38 games for the 76ers, and averaged under 14 minutes per game. He still managed about 0.5 steals and 0.2 blocks, which both work to bolster strong defensive numbers. He missed a lot of time with injuries, but wasn’t a regular part of the rotation for much of the season. Considering half of his shots come from three, and that’s by far the biggest weakness in his game. If he can’t develop into a league average shooter, his career isn’t going anywhere. He was traded to the Hawks this offseason, as part of a deal to get Carmelo Anthony out of OKC. He was a thrown-in to help match salaries. This is the final season on Justin’s rookie deal.
Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee Bucks – The 2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year had a disappointing sophomore campaign, mostly because of injury. His numbers were mostly the same as the previous year, but he played just 48 games. He averaged 13 points, three assists, and three rebounds per game, along with a steal. He shot 39% from three and 48% overall. He spent more time at SG than he did as a rookie, although the difference for the Bucks is minimal as Giannis Antetokounmpo handles the ball most of the time. Brogdon enters the season as a starter on the wing for a team looking to build on a 7th place finish in the Eastern Conference. New head coach Mike Budenholzer is a scheme guy and seems like a coach who will love having Brogdon’s basketball mind on the floor. In preseason action Sunday night, Brogdon had 12 points in Milwaukee’s 125-107 win.
Joe Harris, New Jersey Nets – A big year from Joe last year led to a big contract for Joe. He signed a 2-year, $16 million deal this offseason. This will be his 5th NBA season, but he’s only gotten consistent minutes over the past two years. Last year, Joe started 14 times, averaged over 25 minutes per game, and scored about 11 points per game. He doesn’t provide much other than scoring, though he’s a good team defender and a smart player. He shot 42% from three, and almost 50% from the field. Those are both outstanding numbers for perimeter players. Joe will have to keep shooting lights out in order to justify the contract.
Mike Scott, LA Clippers – The elder statesman of UVA professionals, Scott is entering his 7th season in the NBA, and his 3rd team. He also was briefly a member of the Phoenix Suns, though he never actually suited up for them. He spent last season with the Wizards and averaged about nine points and three rebounds in about 18 minutes per game as a key reserve for a disappointing Wizards squad. The most interesting number was his 3-point shooting, which was a career high 41% and he averaged about 1 trey per game. That number is a big part of why he signed a 1-year, $4.3 million deal with the LA Clippers. Scott is expected to serve in a similar role for the Clippers as a backup big man who can shoot and defend.
Darion Atkins, Hapoel Unet Holon (Israel) – Atkins returns to Hapoel Holon after, spending last year in France. He had a solid year, averaging 8.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in 21 minutes per game. He’s still a very good defender and is used as a defensive stopper. He’s played for Hapoel Holon in 2016, and was fantastic, scoring 14 per game to go along with eight rebounds per game. Hapoel Holon lost their season opener last night, with Atkins coming off the bench for 19 points and 11 rebounds in 33 minutes. He blocked a shot and shot 2-for-2 from downtown.
Anthony Gill, Khimki Moscow (Russia) – Gill is back in Russia, where he played last year. Last year, in 24 minutes per game, he averaged 11 points and five rebounds. He shot 58% from the field and 43% from three. The team finished 6th in the league standings, and Gill was one of the team leaders. Gill had 10 points and five rebounds in the season opener on Friday. He was 4-for-7 from the field, with all three misses coming from downtown. He played just 20 minutes, as Khimki led 52-26 at halftime.
Devon Hall, Cairns Taipans (Australia) – Though he was selected by the OKC Thunder in this year’s draft, Hall did not seem likely to make the team’s NBA roster. Hall was struggling to get minutes in the NBA Summer League and OKC already has a full NBA roster. So rather than hang around in the NBA G-League, he chose to move to Australia to develop his game. Not a bad gig if you ask me. Hall will team up with former Maryland PG Melo Trimble and seems likely to start at SG. Their schedule begins this Saturday.
Sylven Landesberg, Turk Telecom Ankara (Turkey) – Once one of the top players in the Israeli league, Landesberg moved to Spain last year and played with Estudiantes. He averaged 19 points per game, finishing second in the league in scoring. He tacked on four rebounds and two assists per game. Landesberg is still just 28 years old and has moved to Turkey this year. He scored 23 points with five assists in the season opener, which was a EuroCup loss. In their game last night, the season opener for the Turkish league, he had 16 points, two rebounds and two assists in win.
London Perrantes, CSP Limoges (France) – After a season spent shuttling between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Canton Charge, Perrantes put his NBA dreams on hold and has signed a deal with French first division team Limoges. Early in the season, he’s starting at PG and averaging about eight points and seven assists while making 50% of his threes. He’s also chipping in 1.5 steals per game.
Akil Mitchell, Boulazac Basket Dordogne (France) – If you’re a UVA basketball fan, you may have read about Akil’s scary eye injury from a few years ago. I’m not going to link it here because I don’t want to see it again. Akil bounced back from that injury to play for the Long Island Nets over the past two seasons. He played 30 games last year, averaging eight and six with a steal and a block per game. He’s signed this year with a French first division team. Akil came off the bench in the season opening win, but started the next three. He’s averaging 7.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and two steals.
Mike Tobey, Valencia (Spain) – Tobey played last year for Iberostar Tenerife, also in Spain. He averaged 12 points and six rebounds with a block per game, through all competitions. He also shot 60% from the field and 41% from three. He started in about 2/3 of the team’s games. This year Tobey is back with Valencia, where he played in 2016-17. He came off the bench in the first game of the season, and scored eight points to go with seven rebounds in 14 minutes. He suffered a shoulder injury in that game and is expected to miss three weeks.
Let’s not forget that another Wahoo, Rick Carlisle, is still the head coach for the Dallas Mavericks. He enters his 10th season at the helm in Dallas, though the Mavs are not the same team that they were when he began his career there. The Mavericks went 24-58 last season and finished 13th in the Western Conference.