Ahead of his first game at the 2017 NBA D-League Showcase, Sioux Falls Skyforce guard Briante Weber couldn’t help but reflect on all that’s happened in the last two years.
Weber tore his ACL and MCL during his final college season in January 2015, and the VCU product went undrafted as a result. He had short stints with two NBA teams during his first year as a pro – one 10-day contract with the Grizzlies and three appearances for Miami – while spending most of his time in Sioux Falls. Weber’s first game with the Skyforce came at last year’s Showcase, almost a full year after the gruesome knee injury.
He was on the court for just four minutes that night.
"It humbled me. It made me work harder than I ever had to, just because I had to get back to the level that I play, and the way I play is pretty much chaos… And now I'm here, 341 days later from the injury. It was like a jail sentence. So now the trial's up, and I'm free." ⏩ Briante Weber, back from a torn ACL & MCL, plays NEXT on NBADLeague.com! #DLeagueShowcase #ThisIsWhyWePlay
“The first thing I did [after the injury] was look for my mom. I was calling for my mother and then, me being me, I thought it was nothing, because I had never been seriously injured. I thought it was something I could walk off and get back out there. I was about 10 seconds away from running back on the court until my leg gave out so I was like yeah, that’s something major. If that wasn’t the most humbling experience that I ever encountered… Yeah, that was exactly what it was. It humbled me. It made me work harder than I ever had to, just because I had to get back to the level that I play at, and the way I play is pretty much chaos. … The talk was that I was gonna get drafted. Then, when that happened, I had to backtrack ‘cause I was thinking too far ahead. I had to live in the moment. … It was like a jail sentence. I called it the ‘Free Breezy’ trial. So now the trial’s up and I’m free – I can play.” – Briante Weber who tore his ACL/MCL last year at VCU and made his comeback with the @sfskyforce. Today, he received an #NBACallUp to the @memgrizz! #TheJourney #ThisIsWhyWePlay
“That’s the first thing I thought about when I got up this morning,” Weber said on Thursday in Mississauga, Ontario. “I got a burst of energy just thinking that last year it was my first game back, and I knew I was going to play limited minutes. And now I knew I was going to play 30-plus.”
Weber went on to have a stellar rookie season, which led to the call-up from Miami late in the year. He’s been even better in his second year – Weber climbed all the way to No. 1 in NBADLeague.com’s Prospect Watch heading into this week’s Showcase.
The 6-2 guard is averaging 15.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.2 assists while also leading the D-League in steals with 3.2 per game. Weber ranks fourth in the league in assists, and his 2.42 assist-to-turnover ratio is also among the best. He has recorded four triple-doubles in 24 appearances.
Weber put on another show Thursday, posting 14 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and two steals as Sioux Falls defeated the Reno Bighorns. He even threw an alley-oop to himself off the backboard.
“He’s still learning the game,” said Sioux Falls assistant coach Anthony Carter, a former NBA point guard. “He’s young, and I think he’s doing a better job of running the team as a point guard should. I’m staying in his ear, letting him know what NBA teams are looking for, the things he should be working on. We’ve been going twice a day, getting him to buy in and get comfortable with the NBA game.”
Weber says working with Carter has been especially helpful in his development. Carter played more than a decade in the NBA, but not before starting his career in a minor league just like Weber.
“I had to work on my game and learn how to become a point guard, learn the same things he’s learning now,” Carter said.
“Anthony and I have constant battles about me getting better as a point guard,” Weber added. “And who better for me to listen to than someone who played 13 years in the NBA?”
Known mostly for his defense at VCU – he led the nation in steals as a junior and finished just shy of setting the NCAA career steals record – Weber has improved his offensive skills and become one of the best all-around players in the D-League.
He’s come a long way since that devastating injury two years ago. The next step is earning another Call-Up to the NBA, as Sioux Falls teammate Okaro White did earlier this week.
“When I get my shot again,” Weber said, “I’ll make it worthwhile.”