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NBA G League Elite Mini Camp, Player Invitational Standouts Shining

By Drew Zlogar | November 8, 2017

Every summer the NBA G League holds two marquee events to allow players to showcase themselves in front of player personnel, executives and coaches ahead of the 2017-18 season. The NBA G League Elite Mini Camp took place in Chicago on May 8 and 9, followed by the NBA G League Player Invitational (formerly known as the National Tryout) on August 13.

Each event included about 40 invited players. Come September, 13 players from the Player Invitational and 11 from Elite Mini Camp received invitations to NBA training camp:

Player Invitational
Troy Caupain – Orlando
Daniel Dixon – Boston
Isaac Hamilton – Cleveland
Ike Iroegbu – LA Clippers
Jaylen Johnson – Chicago
Tidjan Keita – Phoenix
Marc Loving – Philadelphia
Jordan Mathews – Atlanta
Luke Petrasek – Charlotte
Kendall Pollard – Utah
Rodney Purvis – Orlando
Trevor Thompson – Golden State
Jacorey Williams – Cleveland

Elite Mini-Camp
Cliff Alexander – New Orleans
Alex Caruso – LA Lakers*
Matt Costello – San Antonio*
Jonathan Holmes – Boston
John Jenkins – Atlanta
Jalen Jones – New Orleans*
Trey McKinney-Jones – Indiana
Alfonzo McKinnie – Toronto**
CJ Williams – LA Clippers*
Reggie Hearn – Sacramento
Jameel Warney – Dallas

*Received Two-Way NBA Contract
**Signed NBA Contract & made roster

All 13 of the above Player Invitational participants have signed to play in the NBA G League this season. Four Elite Mini Camp participants eventually received a Two-Way Contract from an NBA team, while one, Alfonzo McKinnie, signed an NBA contract and made the Toronto Raptors’ opening night roster. (NBA teams can sign up to two players to a Two-Way Contract, giving the player a maximum of 45 days on the NBA roster and the rest of the season in the G League.)

Here are some highlights among this successful crop of NBA talent:

Alex Caruso, Guard, South Bay Lakers

Caruso was one of the standouts from Elite Mini Camp. The Texas A&M alum, who shows great court vision and a relentless work ethic on both sides of the ball, impressed  Lakers scouts and became one of the four players awarded with a Two-Way Contract. Caruso spent last season playing for the Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder’s affiliate, appearing in 50 games and making 46 starts. He finished the G League season averaging 11.9 points and ranked fifth in assists per game at 6.3.

Caruso has always been a pass-first player, and was an effective distributor last season. He brought that same skill set into the Mini Camp over the summer, as he finished Top 5 in assists for the camp (4.3 apg), as well as Summer League and preseason with the Lakers.

Jalen Jones, Forward, Greensboro Swarm

Jones, another player who showed out at Elite Mini Camp, received a Two-Way Contract with the Pelicans. Jones, like Caruso, hails from Texas A&M and played last season for the Maine Red Claws, the Celtics farm team. Jones appeared in 46 games for the Red Claws, all of which were starts. He averaged 21.0 ppg., 8.8 rpg., all while shooting 44% from the floor.

Jones is a lengthy 6’7” forward, who can do a bit of everything on the court. He has a knack for collecting rebounds, as he ranked top 10 in rebounds per game last season. Jones also has the ability to stretch his defender out of the paint, as he shot 34% from behind the arc.

Jones filled the stat sheet at the Mini Camp this summer, compiling 13.3 ppg., 6.0 rpg., and 2.3 apg., numbers that are nothing new for the former Aggie. This season Jones will be suiting up for the Greensboro Swarm.

Alfonzo McKinnie, Forward, Toronto Raptors

McKinnie is one of the biggest stories following the summer’s Mini Camp. McKinnie played last season for the Windy City Bulls, Chicago’s affiliate team, and had a solid year. He averaged 14.9 ppg., and 9.2 rpg. in 50 appearances, making 34 starts. McKinnie showed he could impact the stat sheet in many ways again at  Elite Mini Camp, as he posted 11.5 ppg., and 2.5 apg.

McKinnie is the lone player to sign outright with an NBA team from the camp. The Toronto Raptors signed him to a multi-year deal, making McKinnie one of the league’s feel-good story. For a player who had to pay $150 to try out for the Windy City Bulls some time ago, he turned dreams into reality, as he rose from being an unheard-of prospect to NBA G League standout to now an NBA player.

Rodney Purvis, Guard, Lakeland Magic

Purvis is a lead guard hailing from UConn, and previously NC State who has always had a knack for scoring. Purvis had an outstanding three-year career while at UConn. He transferred out of NC State after one season, and ended up enjoying great success as a Huskie.

In 137 career games (100 starts), Purvis averaged 11.6 ppg., and 3.0 rpg., in 29.1 mpg. As a senior last year, he made 32 starts, and averaged 13.8 ppg., 4.2 rpg., and 2.5 apg., all the while playing 36.9 mpg. During the Player Invitational, Purvis averaged 15.0 ppg while shooting 65% from the field in the two games that were played. An Orlando affiliate player, Purvis will look to work his way to the NBA with Lakeland.

Trevor Thompson, Center, Santa Cruz Warriors

Thompson was another player who turned heads at the Player Invitational, landing a contract with the Golden State Warriors. The 7-foot Thompson, who has a wild standing reach measured at 9-foot-3, will stay in the Warriors’ system in Santa Cruz this season.

Thompson averaged a near double-double in 20 games played (10.7 ppg, 9.3 rpg) during his senior season at Ohio State. In the two games played at the Player Invitational, he averaged 15.0 ppg., and even knocked down a pair of threes. At 250 pounds, Thompson will bring big size and the ability to potentially stretch the floor a bit.

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