Arizona Basketball

What’s next for former Arizona Wildcats Ashley and McConnell?


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Undrafted Brandon Ashley will reportedly try to find his niche in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers during the NBA Summer League

(AZ Desert Swarm Twitter)

(AZ Desert Swarm Twitter)

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The bad news is former Arizona Wildcats teammates Brandon Ashley and T.J. McConnell went undrafted tonight. The good news is the success of some other undrafted players in the NBA means the door is always open to a possible spot in the league.

Ashley, who left after his junior season, and McConnell must go the undrafted free agent route after the 60 spots in the two rounds of the NBA draft eluded them tonight. Ashley reportedly has signed with the Los Angeles Lakers to play on their NBA Summer League team.

According to The Arizona Daily Star’s Bruce Pascoe, McConnell has signed a Summer League deal with Philadelphia. He hails from Pittsburgh.

Here are the names Ashley and McConnell should think about when they go to bed tonight to rest easy: Jeremy Lin, Wesley Matthews and Jose Barea. They’re all established NBA players who did not have their name called on draft night. Each has earned more than $5 million in their careers.

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Site founder and award-winning sports journalist Javier Morales has published his first e-book, “The Highest Form of Living”, a fiction piece about a young man who overcomes a troubled upbringing without his lost father and wayward mother through basketball and hope. His hope is realized through the sport he loves. Basketball enables him to get past his fears. His experience on the court indirectly brings him closer to his parents in a unique, heartfelt way. Please order it at Amazon (for only $4.99) by clicking on the photo:
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T.J. McConnell has that strong mentality that could push him to success in the NBA or overseas.

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Two of the Cleveland starters in the NBA Finals also went undrafted — Matthew Dellavedova and Timofey Mozgov.

Remember how important Udonis Haslem was as a complimentary player to LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh at Miami? He went undrafted out of Florida in 2003.

While it’s true that Arizona has featured only Ray Owes as an undrafted player who advanced to the NBA, the Wildcats have produced talent who were drafted beyond today’s standard of two rounds. The draft went from seven rounds to two rounds in 1989.

Owes went undrafted in 1995 and played one season in Australia before signing with Golden State before the 1996-97 season. He played only 24 games that season with the Warriors before heading back to Australia.

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Former Arizona players such as Coniel Norman (third round in 1974) and Pete Williams (fourth round in 1985) played briefly in the NBA. They would not have been drafted by today’s two-round limit. On the other hand, Ashley and McConnell likely would have been taken in a seven-round scenario.

Norman’s situation is the closest to Ashley of being an Arizona player who left early but was overlooked in the draft.

Ashley has hope with his size (6’9″ and 230 pounds) and ability to play facing the basket. He like McConnell can make a career in Europe if necessary given their skill set and development.

The biggest part of their game now will be the mental aspect having the desire and will to make something out of nothing under the watchful eye of NBA scouts. They must carve a niche like this guy Barea did with the Mavericks:

ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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