Dearman one step closer; Williams waits

By Gus Bode

Former Salukis try for NBA with mixed results

While Jermaine Dearman is still fighting for an NBA roster spot, Kent Williams’ NBA dreams have hit a brick wall.

Dearman, the second-leading scorer on last season’s SIU men’s basketball NCAA tournament team, had a strong showing in his hometown of Indianapolis in early July and made the Pacers’ summer league team.

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This came after he played twice a day from July 3-5 along with 14 other NBA hopefuls. Dearman was one of six players to make the team, which is a split-squad that will also field six players from the Philadelphia 76ers organization. This means Dearman will be playing with former Creighton star Kyle Korver and Cookie Belcher, the older brother of former SIU guard Marcus Belcher.

Dearman will go through individual workouts with former NBA player Chuck Person in Indianapolis this week before heading to Salt Lake City for the Rocky Mountain Revue.

The event, which begins Friday, features summer league teams from 10 NBA franchises. Several of Dearman’s games will be broadcast on NBA.com TV.

Dearman said that while he isn’t aware of how the Pacers will determine which players to keep, he’s just going to focus on playing well.

“I’ll let everything else work itself out,” Dearman said. “I don’t know the exact way they’re going to choose teams, but I know there will be a lot of people watching those games. If the team you’re playing with doesn’t like you, you might get picked up somewhere else. But you hope since you’ve been working out with that team that they’ll keep you.”

After receiving little exposure following the SIU basketball season, Dearman is ecstatic that the team he grew up with was the one that believed in his talent.

“For them to be the only ones to give me a chance, that makes me feel good because I didn’t get a chance to get invited to Portsmouth and the pre-draft and the other camps like Kent did,” Dearman said. “He had already had a workout with the Timberwolves.

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That was my first time getting a chance to work out for a NBA team, and for them to be the only team to give me a chance, I thought that was kind of cool.”

While Dearman is still being evaluated by NBA scouts, Williams is in Southern Illinois where he has been working out individually and with his former SIU teammates while he bides his time before finding out where he’ll continue his basketball career.

“You never know,” said Williams, who led SIU in scoring each of his four seasons. “I could get invited to another camp or something while I’m here, but the next step is probably to go overseas and get some good money over there and get some good experience, and next summer just see how much I’ve improved and come back and just see what happens.”

Williams said his agent is focusing on professional teams in Italy and Spain. However, he could possibly play in China or Australia, where the money is still good, but also where he wouldn’t get scouted as much as in Europe.

Williams, who competed in the Denver Nuggets mini-camp, had steep odds to make their summer-league team. While Indiana had no veterans returning for the summer, Denver had nine, leaving little room for him.

“I feel like I did everything I could to try and impress them,” Williams said. “All the assistant coaches were saying good things to me, but it comes down to a little bit of politics, and like I said, 22 guys going for three spots, so there was basically just one guard that was gonna make it to that group.”

Reporter Ethan Erickson can be reached at [email protected]

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