Saturday, December 17, 2011

NBA Warriors Have Two Saints in Camp

It's a rare happening when a former MAAC player lands on an NBA roster, but there have been a few. If memory serves, former La Salle standouts Doug Overton (11 NBA seasons) and Lionel Simmons (seven NBA seasons), and former Rider standout Jason Thompson (entering his fourth NBA season with the Sacramento Kings) are the most prominent.

But, has there ever been a time when two former MAAC players are on the same NBA roster?

Not yet, but there's a chance. Two former Siena players, swingman Edwin Ubiles and guard Tommy Mitchell, are both on the Golden State Warriors' preseason roster.

The team currently has 21 players in preseason camp, preparing for the Christmas Day beginning to the NBA season. It's anyone's guess as to whether both former Saints will make the final cut, but there they are for now.

It's not much of a surprise to see Ubiles surface in an NBA camp. The 6-foot-6 swingman has a versatile game that could make him an effective performer.

At Siena he became the program's third all-time leading scorer (1,939 points). After finishing his four-year Siena career after the 2009-10 season, he had a variety of injuries that kept him off the court for much of the next season.

Late in the 2010-11 season, though, he played several games professionally in Puerto Rico and, this summer, was a key player on that country's team that won the gold medal in the Pan American Games.

Since then Ubiles played five games for the Dakota Warriors, Golden State's entry in the NBA Developmental League. There he averaged 18.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game before getting the invitation to the NBA preseason camp.

Mitchell, while possessing the necessary athleticism to play beyond the college level, never truly was an elite player even at the mid-major level while at Siena. While he did score 1,115 points (29th best in school history), his best year was as a sophomore in 2002-03 when he averaged 13.6 points per game. As a senior in 2004-05, albeit playing through some minor injuries, he only averaged 8.2 points per game.

Mitchell subsequently bounced around in a number of low-level professional leagues since graduating from Siena in 2005. Before joining the Warriors' training camp he was playing for the Quebec entry in the National Basketball League of Canada where he was averaging 11.7 points per game.

Mitchell is currently 29 years old, hardly the typical age for a player getting his first real look by an NBA team.

But, there they are. Preseason exhibition games begin today (Saturday) for the Warriors, and it bears watching by MAAC fans to see if either Ubiles or Mitchell ... or, potentially, both ... can make it to the regular-season's roster.

Siena has had just one player make a regular-season roster. Former standout Kenny Hasbrouck signed several 10-day contracts with the Miami Heat two years ago, but never appeared in a regular-season contest.

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