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September 18, 2014

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NBA SUMMER LEAGUE 2010:

Ebanks, other Lakers prospects shine at Summer League

Second-round pick out of West Virginia looks like a prime candidate to make defending champs’ roster

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Devin Ebanks of the Lakers makes a move to the basket during an NBA Summer League game against the Spurs Thursday at the Cox Pavilion.

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Devin Ebanks of the Lakers bites his jersey after being called for a foul basket during an NBA Summer League game against the Spurs Thursday at the Cox Pavilion.

Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Chuck Person readily admits that the organization doesn't necessarily care about its win-loss record in the NBA Summer League.

So there was plenty to smile about after the Lakers' 2010 excursion to the desert ended with an 0-5 record after Thursday's 80-71 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

One guy who drew some positive reviews was rookie swingman Devin Ebanks, who the back-to-back champs took in the second round — 43rd overall — of last month's draft.

"For him, it's just a great opportunity to come into an organization that's first-class and world-class in all aspects, because we're champions," Person said. "He has an opportunity to learn from some of the greatest players in our league today — Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, defensively Ron Artest — and then the best coach in the league in Phil Jackson. So you couldn't ask for a better situation to come into.

"He just has to embrace it and look forward to the journey he has ahead of him in the Lakers organization. It's a blessing for him."

Ebanks left West Virginia on the heels of a Final Four appearance that capped his sophomore season, and despite slipping out of the first round, he said he has no regrets.

This week showed why.

Ebanks averaged 15 points and 3.6 rebounds per game and shot the ball at a 42.4 percent clip. That included a surprising 5-of-11 showing from 3-point range.

At a lanky 6-foot-9, his numbers at West Virginia — 11.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg — following a decorated prep career were never out-of-this-world. But within Bob Huggins' rugged system, he earned a reputation as a premier defender at all five spots on the floor and a strong rebounder.

"I think I shot the ball well. That's one of the main things I was trying to prove," Ebanks said. "I worked well with my teammates and stayed active defensively.

"I'm a team player who doesn't need the ball to be successful."

The Lakers, at the moment, have only eight players under contract for next season.

Ebanks wasn't the lone member of the summer squad who opened some eyes.

The team's other second-round choice — well-traveled, once highly-touted UTEP big man Derrick Caracter — averaged 15.4 points and 8.6 rebounds per outing. He shot 59.3 percent from the floor and posted a trio of double-doubles after trimming down from more than 300 pounds to 275.

Meanwhile, guard D.J. Strawberry — son of former big league outfielder Darrell Strawberry — poured in 14.2 points per game and showed good leadership qualities as point guard.

Ebanks, though, still is the Lakers' most intriguing prospect, largely because, at tender age of 20, he hasn't come anywhere close to hitting his ceiling.

The possibility of him learning under veteran wing Artest, too, is an interesting angle.

Ebanks grew up literally down the street from where Artest learned the game in the Queens neighborhoods of New York City.

He said he first met Artest when he was 10 years old and the now-12-year NBA vet was just a rookie with the Chicago Bulls. The two met again four years later for a photo shoot for Dime Magazine.

Person said the only major comparison he sees between the two is a similar defensive prowess, but that could change if he's brought back to training camp in the fall.

"It's an opportunity I'm looking forward to," a confident Ebanks said. "I just have to wait until (Lakers general manager) Mitch Kupchak calls my agent and lets me know if he wants me back in training camp.

"To be honest, I haven't felt any pressure. I'm a confident player any time I step on the court."

Several people suspect that Ebanks will not only be brought to camp, but has a strong chance of making the Lakers' roster.

From there, the real learning process will begin.

"Devin, he can rebound, he can defend, block some shots and he adds some offense. He just needs to improve his strength and become familiar with the system that we run," Person said, referencing Jackson's vaunted triangle offense. "That's about passing, moving with the ball and doing the simple things we need to do to execute within the triangle. We have to reboot him — detox him, in a sense — teach him to slow down and how to do the things we do with the triangle and forget the things he's done at West Virginia, so to speak."

Thursday's other Summer League action...

• Former Utah big man Kim Tillie finished out his first Summer League with a 13-point, 13-rebound double-double for the Golden State Warriors as they bested the Phoenix Suns, 86-76.

• No. 1 overall pick John Wall nearly posted a triple-double, finishing with a sparkling 21 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds as the Washington Wizards moved to 3-0 with an 88-82 victory against the Dallas Mavericks.

• Richard Hendrix's 14 points led five Atlanta Hawks in double figures, as the team notched its first win of the Summer League in an 83-60 blowout of the Milwaukee Bucks.

• The Los Angeles Clippers also notched their first victory of this year's Summer League with a 72-71 victory against the Portland Trailblazers. Third-year center DeAndre Jordan finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds in the win.

• The Memphis Grizzlies still haven't lost a Summer League game since 2008, smashing the NBA Developmental League squad, 101-85. Sam Young went off for the Grizz, dropping 35 points, while last year's second-overall pick — Hasheem Thabeet — had 21 points and 14 boards.

Friday's game to watch ...

Memphis has proven over the past two years that it is by far the most fun team to watch at the Summer League, and the Grizzlies go for a 4-0 mark in 2010 when they meet the 0-2 Minnesota Timberwolves at 7 p.m. in the Cox Pavilion.

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