By Brian Kotloff, NBADLeague.com
For the third straight season, it’s time to rewrite the NBA Development League record book.
In a Tuesday matinee in Newark, Delaware 87ers guard Jordan McRae broke the NBA minor league’s single-game scoring record with 61 points in a 130-123 overtime win over the Canton Charge.
He surpassed a mark originally set by Idaho Stampede guard Pierre Jackson, who scored 58 in February 2014 — a fact that was fresh on McRae’s mind. As a teammate of Jackson’s with the Sixers throughout Summer League and the preseason, McRae said he would often ask Jackson how he got that record.
“Ah, yeah — I’ll probably text him before he texts me,” McRae said on Tuesday, shortly after his record-breaking outburst. (Reno Bighorns guard Dar Tucker later tied the 58-point mark last season.)
|NBA D-League Single-Game Scoring Leaders|
|61||Jordan McRae||Delaware 87ers||Jan. 26, 2016|
|58||Pierre Jackson||Idaho Stampede||Feb. 14, 2014|
|Dar Tucker||Reno Bighorns||March 28, 2015|
|56||Manny Harris||Los Angeles D-Fenders||Feb. 8, 2015|
|53||Morris Almond||Utah Flash||Jan. 30, 2008|
|Will Conroy||Albuquerque Thunderbirds||April 8, 2009|
|52||Osiris Eldridge||Bakersfield Jam||Dec. 11, 2011|
|Kenny Hayes||Maine Red Claws||March 4, 2012|
But as for during the game? McRae said he didn’t know 58 was in striking distance until he stepped to the line with 31 seconds to go in overtime, when his teammates told him he had 57.
Before that point, McRae had scored 17 in the first quarter, eight in the second, 16 in the third and 14 in the fourth. His bucket with 5.4 seconds left in the fourth quarter — for his 54th and 55th points — tied the score at 112 to send the game into the extra session.
His final line on the career day: 61 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists, 21-of-34 from the field, 3-of-8 from three-point range, 16-of-18 from the foul line.
It was reason for McRae to celebrate as he pushes for a Call-Up to the NBA, which 13 NBA D-League prospects had received as of Tuesday. But McRae said the celebration wouldn’t last long.
“This is just a moment where you have to enjoy it for right now, but we have an optional shooting day tomorrow. So I mean, I just have to go about things like this never happened; I’m still gonna get my shots up tomorrow,” he said.
McRae said being cut by the Sixers in October “was a feeling I never felt before.”
Like many of the Development League’s top players, he’d been a high school and college star: ranked by ESPN as the No. 38 recruit in the nation in 2010; a two-time all-SEC player at Tennessee, who led the Volunteers to the Sweet Sixteen in 2014 as their senior scoring leader; the eventual No. 58 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
He played most of his first pro season in the National Basketball League of Australia before joining the Sevens last March, and entered Tuesday as the NBADL’s sixth-leading scorer this season at 21.7 points per game.
“I can speak for a lot of guys who don’t make a team. For 95 percent of us, it’s our first time getting cut from anything.” McRae said Tuesday. “It made me hungrier.”
In fact, fueling McRae just as much as the 61 points he scored himself are 11 points he saw scored on TV on Monday night. They came from Sean Kilpatrick, McRae’s roommate and Delaware teammate until two weeks ago, when he was called up to the Nuggets; Kilpatrick’s 11 points against the Hawks came on the fourth day of his second 10-day contract.
“Tuning into his games and seeing him do well,” McRae said, “it gives me hope that it can happen.”