07.15.19 | News
NBA Summer League
A New Orleans Pelicans rookie dazzled in the NBA Summer League, but it’s not who you think. Zion Williamson only played in the first half of his debut before the team shut him down, leaving the spotlight to 17th overall pick Nickeil Alexander-Walker. The Canadian shooting guard and Culligan City of Palms Classic alum averaged 24.2 points and 6.0 assists over four summer league games, including a 34-point outburst against the Heat in the quarterfinals.
His performance validated the risk that GM David Griffin took last month when he drafted the projected second-rounder midway through the first. It also evoked memories of Alexander-Walker’s time at the Culligan City of Palms Classic in 2015, when he and cousin Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, now with the Thunder, led Hamilton Heights (Chattanooga, Tennessee) to the Signature Series championship.
Plenty of other former Culligan City of Palms Classic players made their presence felt last week, including Anfernee Simons, who saw limited action as a rookie for the Portland Trail Blazers last season. The Blazers made him a starter on their summer league team, and he took full advantage, averaging 22 points per game thanks in large part to torrid 11 for 17 shooting from behind the arc.
Center Bruno Fernando was an interior force for the Atlanta Hawks, much as he was for Montverde Academy during their 2015 run to the Culligan City of Palms Classic title game. The 6-foot-10 native of Angola averaged 3.3 blocks per game, giving indication the Hawks may have snagged a steal with the 34th overall pick.
R.J. Barrett, the top Culligan City of Palms Classic alum selected in this year’s draft at No. 3, teamed with another former tournament player to give Knicks fans hope of a potent one-two punch in the future. Both put up identical scoring averages of 16.8 points per game. While Knox had the better outside shooting, Barrett’s 9.5 rebounds per contest stood out, particularly considering he’s a 6-foot-7 shooting guard.
Power forward Amile Jefferson, who was a one-man wrecking crew for Friends Central (Philadelphia) in the 2011 Culligan City of Palms Classic, also posted strong scoring and rebounding numbers for the Orlando Magic’s summer league entry. He averaged 16.4 points and 9.6 boards over five games, giving him ammunition as he seeks to solidify his place in the NBA.
The Las Vegas courts were dotted with many more of the same players who took part in recent Culligan City of Palms Classics, proving once again why the tournament is the country’s best.