Lester Hudson acquired the nickname “Mini-Vinnie” from Washington Wizards team personnel while playing for their summer league team in Las Vegas … as in Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson. The great Detroit Pistons bench player is listed at 6’2″. Hudson’s pre-draft measurements list him at 6’1″ (other “official” listings boost him up to 6’3″). We’ll call it about even. The combo-guard is still trying to latch on with an NBA team, but the Memphis native has already accomplished far beyond what was ever expected of him.
Hudson’s story comes from the same setting as Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher, subject of Michael Lewis’ book, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game. The former gym class star, where he was discovered in ninth grade, not playing organized basketball, comes from a tough neighborhood in the Home of the Blues. “It’s hard coming out of Memphis because most everybody is from the projects and struggling trying to make it,” he told me after the last Wizards summer league game.
Maybe a rich, white family didn’t take him in, but Hudson did have a coach, Andre Applewhite, who fought tooth and nail to get him to overcome his academic struggles as a kid. Having repeated the ninth grade and already 19-years old, he was declared ineligible for his senior season of high school after playing just one season of competitive basketball as a junior. Hudson tried to stick around for class, but eventually dropped out of Memphis’ Central High without a diploma. This according to a December 2007 profile of Hudson by the Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell, the same writer who authored the most accomplished profile of John Wall to date.
Applewhite then pushed Hudson to Southwest Tennessee Community College, where he had to earn a GED during his first semester to keep attending. Hudson didn’t graduate from Southwest Tennessee CC, which ultimately forced him to sit out a year before he could play for a D-I program. Obviously some schools backed off recruiting him because of this. Hudson eventually wound up at the University of Tennessee-Martin, where he turned 23 before ever stepping on the basketball court.
[Jerome Randle, meet Omar Samhan. He's now going to box you out.]
Thinking about summer league, and I have more posts to come regarding, but if there’s a regret I’ve paid for, it’s not talking to Jerome Randle. He’s fun to watch. He’s nice (in a basketball handles sense). He’s 5’9.25″ without shoes.
And I honestly believe he’ll be in the NBA someday (he was also the 2010 Pac-10 POY, BTW). Out of him I saw flashes of a jumper, aggressive defense, and the ability to lead a team. If he improves in each of those areas, especially the jump shot, my belief will come true.
In lieu of all that, I present some pictures of Jerome Randle, performing sweetness. Read more »
[Cartier Martin shoots a jumper near the onlooking Ernie Grunfeld and Flip Saunders.]
One thing I’ll take from being around Cartier Martin is that he’s an earnest guy. No frills. No shadowing of his persona. Just a guy named Cartier.
He was out there communicating with his summer league teammates, trying to be leader … not because such acts make him look good, but because they make the whole team look good. This point was driven home when I spoke with Martin about what he would’ve done differently since pursuing a pro career after college.
“I picked up the work ethic kind of late,” he readily admitted, something many players wouldn’t be so willing to shed light upon. He said it took being away from his family and the unideal pursuit of basketball money overseas to realize that he needed to work on his intangibles.
Prior to last week’s Wizards-Mavericks summer league game, in what had to be one of the shortest, most unconventional interviews ever, I talked to Omar Samhan about his matchup with JaVale McGee. I knew that Samhan was stronger and more skilled in the low post, but I also understood that McGee was longer, more athletic and more experienced in terms of how the NBA game is played.
I asked Samhan, via Blackberry Messenger of all places, what his approach to guarding McGee would be. He typed:
“Try to outsmart him. Be physical with him.”
Unfortunately for Samhan, me, and the fans who watched both on television and in person, that classic, low-post type battle never materialized. And McGee took full advantage.
[Trevor Booker snatches a pre-game warm-up rebound away from teammate Corsley Edwards.]
What exactly does Trevor Booker do? That’s the question.
Booker’s summer league stats don’t jump off the page. In 28.2 minutes over five games he averaged 8.2 points on 51.6-percent shooting, 4.2 rebounds, 1.4 steals, one block, 0.6 assists and 2.6 turnovers. His best game came in the finale against the New York Knicks when John Wall, JaVale McGee and Raymar Morgan didn’t play — he tallied 15 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals in 31 minutes.
After game three against the Dallas Mavericks, Mike Prada of Bullets Forever wrote, “I’m getting a bit concerned that the Wizards don’t exactly know what to do with Trevor Booker, aka ‘Grown-Ass Man,’ on offense.”
I finally made it back to D.C. from Las Vegas after a bit of travel adventure. Below is John Wall’s Summer League ‘exit interview’ video, if you will, and below that is a recap of his time in Vegas that I wrote for ESPN’s Daily Dime on Sunday. More follow-ups on the Summer League to come.
The hype surrounding John Wall has been akin to a well-crafted campaign by Don Draper of “Mad Men,” as good as advertised. His product, basketball-speaking, was flying off the shelves during a four-game stint at the 2010 NBA Las Vegas Summer League, but he performed better than expected in areas that don’t require physical talents, such as leadership and communication.
Wall sat out of the Wizards’ fifth and final game on Saturday, a 109-107 overtime loss to the New York Knicks, Washington’s only defeat of the summer. Afterward, Wall cited tendinitis in both knees as the need to rest, something the 19-year-old said he’s always dealt with.
[John Wall talks about overcoming offensive struggles (he recognizes that he's trying to fade too much and isn't holding the follow-through on his jumper) and his 18 point third quarter on Friday night en route to an 90-89 Wizards win over New Orleans (his team as a whole wasn't making shots, so he pushed the issue by focusing on getting to the basket). More on the game below the video.]
One of the most oft-said/written phrases I’ve heard while in Vegas isn’t, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” No, “It’s just summer league,” has been drilled into our heads.
And we get it. At least those familiar with the NBA get it. We know about Marcus Banks’ 42 points in 2007, and Nokoloz Tskitishvili’s 25.7 ppg that led the league in 2004, and how summer league success has translated for Washington’s own Nick Young, or not.
[Cartier Martin, with hand raised to the right (20), sets up behind the 3-point line.]
“Not as terrible as one would expect,” reads one of only two IMDb user reviews for The Cartier Affair, the 1984 made-for-TV movie Wizards G/F Cartier Martin was named after.
The weighted average of this romantic crime comedy starring the Hoff, Joan Collins, and Telly Savalas sits at a 4.9 (out of 10). 19.4% of voters rated it a 10, 20.9% rated it a 5, and the remaining votes were scattered across the scale. The Cartier Affair was best enjoyed, on average, by males aged 18-29 and females aged 45 and older – rating the flick a 7.4 and an 8.5 respectively. Digressing no further (because this demographic inspection is only mildly interesting to me and not applicable to my hoops analysis), the critique “not as terrible as one would expect” applies to Cartier Martin, too.
At first glance, his career stats (in 51 total NBA games with the Bobcats, Warriors, and Wizards) don’t pop off the page. Read more »
[Rodrigue Beaubois stands annoyed after another foul was called on him.]
Before the game I ran my mouth off to just about anyone who would listen at UNLV’s Cox Pavilion that I was intrigued by the Roddy-Wall match-up, clearly, a Samhan-McGee ‘opposites attract’ battle, and finally, perhaps Hamady N’diaye versus Moussa Seck in a Senegalese throw down.
Well, Beaubois couldn’t do anything but foul Wall and was switched off him, the newly acquired Ian Mahinmi started for Dallas and mostly guarded JaVale, and Seck didn’t even see the court. Damn the summer league (just kidding, I love you).
Two things are below: 1) quick post-game chats with John Wall, Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones in video form; and 2) the second piece by Arish Narayen, a contributor to Truth About It. Arish previously broke down the Wizards’ small forward situation. Here he takes a look at summer league game three against the Mavericks. Read more »