EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Former Kentucky guard DeAndre Liggins was one of 31 players here at the Nets facility this week hoping to earn an invite to their summer league team in Orlando next month.
Thirty-one players, thirty-one dreams.
“We’re able to scout them, either in college or in Europe, so now you bring them for three days to reaffirm what you believe or prove things that you didn’t believe,” Nets GM Billy King said. “Now we’ll take some of these guys to Summer League with us. Then you get more of a chance to evaluate them beyond.”
King wouldn’t say how many players might make the summer league roster, but the 6-foot-6 Liggins appeared to be one of the more NBA-ready players at the free-agent mini-camp. He will also attend the Golden State Warriors mini-camp June 23.
“I shot the ball,” Liggins told SNY.tv. “I know I could shoot it better but it’s OK. I played unselfish, did all the right things, followed my defensive principles, I think I did fine.”
After three years at Kentucky, Liggins was drafted late in the second round in 2011 by the Orlando Magic. Since then, he has bounced around to various D-League stops but last year was named the D-League Defensive Player of the Year and a D-League All-Star while with the Sioux Falls Sky Force.
“The D-League is a perfect spot to develop your game,” Liggins said, adding that he played the 1, 2 and 3 with Sioux Falls. “As long as I do whatever it takes for my team to win, whatever team I’m on, I’m happy.”
While some Kentucky players have come out and done well in the NBA, Liggins understands that that is not his path.
“It’s a process, so you gotta know that going into the NBA,” he said. “If you’re not that type of John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins or [Eric] Bledsoe, you just gotta be willing to do whatever it takes to get better.”
Cousins looks at a guy like Danny Green of the Spurs as someone who has become a valuable NBA player after spending time in the D-League.
“The D-League actually helped them out because they’re playing big minutes in the finals and things like that,” he said. “If I keep working on my shot, I’m going to get better.”
Liggins said he still remains in touch with Kentucky coach John Calipari.
“He roots for me, he loves me.” Liggins said. “I love him, too.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.