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VOL. 133 | NO. 131 | Monday, July 2, 2018

In Grizzlies Mini-Camp, Players Vying for Spots on NBA Summer League Roster

By Don Wade

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One week after the Memphis Grizzlies used the No. 4 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft on Michigan State freshman Jaren Jackson Jr., he was on the practice court at FedExForum with 16 other members of the team’s Summer League Mini-Camp roster.

That quickly, the hype of being a high lottery had given way to the new grind of being a professional getting his work in before the start of the Utah Jazz Summer League July 2-5.

“He’s wide open, taking everything and absorbing it like a sponge,” said Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff. “He’s got the right approach.”

An approach Jackson says is necessary because his draft status is already old business.

Memphis Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff talks with Wayne Selden during the game against the Indiana Pacers. During the Grizzlies' Summer League Mini-Camp, Selden has shown flashes that he could be the team's regular two guard, or at least a valuable rotation member on a good team. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

“That’s kind of out the door now,” he said. “Everybody here wants to prove themselves.”

In the short-term of the mini-camp and then two summer leagues, some players have more to prove than others. For Jackson and second-round (No. 32 overall) draft pick Jevon Carter, out of West Virginia, this is the beginning of learning the Grizzlies’ system and culture.

For other players, it’s a one-shot audition and for still others an opportunity for a bit of a reboot.

Guard Wayne Selden Jr. has shown flashes that he could be team’s regular two guard, or at least a valuable rotation member on a good team. He was limited to 35 games last season because of quad and knee injuries but during one stretch late last season scored 16 or more points in five out of six games. That, coupled with his defense, makes him intriguing.

The summer league is a chance to get his legs back underneath him. He proclaimed himself ready as mini-camp opened: “My body’s good.”

The coaching staff also will be looking for progress from other young holdover players, including guard Kobi Simmons, swingman Myke Henry, forward/center Deyonta Davis and forward Ivan Rabb.

Davis averaged 5.8 points and 4.0 rebounds in 15 minutes per game in his second season. As for what he wants to get out of summer league: “Just work on my all-around game, better rebounding, and working on my offensive game. Last year I think I did well blocking shots, being a rim-protector.”

Rabb averaged 5.6 points and 4.4 rebounds as a rookie and split time between the Grizzlies and their G League affiliate, the Memphis Hustle. Jackson’s arrival serves notices to all the front-line players not named Marc Gasol that there is increased competition.

“We’ve got a lot of bigs on this team and we’re all looking to make a name for ourselves,” Rabb said.

Said Bickerstaff: “Once the draft happens, you kind of see where you stand and it puts you into an extra gear from a competitive standpoint.”

The mini-camp roster includes several players with area ties. Among them: University of Memphis/Ole Miss guard Markel Crawford (Melrose High School); UT-Martin guard Matthew Butler (East High School); Samford guard Demetrius Denzel-Dyson (Covington), and Mississippi State guard Dee Bost.

“A mini-camp with the Memphis Grizzlies is something I’ve been dreaming about forever,” Crawford said. “It’s a great opportunity and I’m gonna take full advantage of it, however far it takes me.”

Following the Utah Jazz Summer League, the Grizzlies’ summer league team will travel to Las Vegas to play in the 12-day MGM Resorts NBA Summer League, which tips off July 6.

Bickerstaff said the local players that received mini-camp invitations all showed something that the staff believed could be a fit.

“We didn’t just bring him in here to fill spots, but with an opportunity to compete to make our summer league team and then who knows what can happen in the future,” Bickerstaff said. “No promises for anyone. Just like it’s the regular season, we’re not promising anyone minutes. You gotta earn them.”

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