Sizable contingent of Jayhawks set to play in Las Vegas Summer League

photo by: Photo courtesy of Bahamas Visual Services

Kansas players Jalen Wilson (10) and Gradey Dick (4) celebrate the Jayhawks' wild, 69-68 overtime win over Wisconsin in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (Photo by Tim Aylen)

Updated 2:13 p.m. Thursday, July 11:

With squads representing all 30 NBA teams in Las Vegas for the NBA Summer League every year, there’s bound to be a fair number of former Jayhawks at various stages of their professional careers.

Sure enough, this year’s edition is expected to feature several rookies, drafted (Johnny Furphy and Kevin McCullar Jr.) and undrafted (Parker Braun); second-year players continuing their acclimation process to the professional level (Gradey Dick and Jalen Wilson); and, at least by comparison, wily veterans (Ochai Agbaji and Marcus Garrett).

Here’s more on each Summer League player who finished his career with the Jayhawks and where the preseason competition finds them all in the course of their careers.

This year’s event begins Friday and continues through the championship game the night of July 22. Each team has an opportunity to play five games, and in fact some have already had the chance to play additional games in preliminary competitions in Northern California and Salt Lake City that take place before the main Summer League.

photo by: AP Photo/John McDonnell

Toronto Raptors guard Ochai Agbaji, left, goes to score past Washington Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, March 23, 2024, in Washington.

Ochai Agbaji

Agbaji is playing for his third Summer League team in three years after early-career trades sent him from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Utah Jazz to, late in the 2023-24 season, the Toronto Raptors, uniting him with another former Jayhawk, Dick.

Agbaji will be the only player on the Raptors’ Summer League roster with more than one year of NBA experience. He saw a slight uptick in minutes and scoring after the Jazz traded him, scoring 6.7 points on average with 3.3 rebounds in 27 games in Toronto, but struggled from beyond the arc, shooting just 21.7%.

The Raptors make their Summer League debut against Oklahoma City on Saturday.

photo by: AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Kansas forward Parker Braun dunks the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Wichita State Saturday, Dec. 30, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo. Kansas won 86-67.

Parker Braun

Braun, a backup to Hunter Dickinson throughout the 2023-24 season at Kansas, will get a chance to play for the same organization as his younger brother Christian: the Denver Nuggets. Christian already earned a national championship with Denver in the 2022-23 campaign, shortly after doing so at KU.

Parker played six seasons of college basketball as one of the rare players to experience both sides of the Border Showdown rivalry; he started his career at Missouri, went on to Santa Clara and then spent his last season at KU. The 6-foot-10 forward started all 33 games for the Broncos in his penultimate year of college basketball and averaged 7.7 points and 5.3 rebounds before taking on a lesser role with the Jayhawks.

The Nuggets face the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.

photo by: AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Toronto Raptors guard Gradey Dick (1) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2024, in Denver.

Gradey Dick

A lottery pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, Dick took some time to settle into his first professional season, struggling at times both in the NBA and the G League. But after the Raptors’ organization helped him through a physical transformation with what it labeled “a special program with his weights and conditioning,” he found a bit more of a groove and by the end of the year was posting season-best numbers.

Dick averaged 8.5 points per game on the year, but that included 14.1 in the season’s final month, including a career-high 24 against Brooklyn. He’ll look to continue on his upward trajectory this coming season.

photo by: AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Kansas guard Johnny Furphy drives during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kansas State Tuesday, March 5, 2024, in Lawrence.

Johnny Furphy

The Australian slid out of the first round of the NBA Draft on June 26 and, because of the event’s new two-day format, didn’t get to find his new professional home until the following night. But in public comments since then, he’s made clear he values his fit with the Indiana Pacers and their fast-paced offense, which will take advantage of his capacity for off-ball movement.

“That’s something I had to do my whole life,” Furphy said on Saturday, according to The Indianapolis Star. “Playing with a lot of different teams, learning how to play without the ball in my hands. That’s something I feel like I do really well, being able to impact the game without the ball, playing in transition, rebounding, cutting. That’s something I see myself doing for sure.”

Furphy, who will get the first chance to display his skills against Wilson and the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, signed a contract with the Pacers that reportedly will pay $8.59 million over four years with three of them guaranteed and the fourth subject to a team option.

photo by: AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

Miami Heat guard Marcus Garrett (0) is in action during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021, in Miami. The Heat won 119-112.

Marcus Garrett

Garrett finds himself with a promising domestic professional opportunity after having once been announced as a participant for the Kansas alumni team in The Basketball Tournament this summer. After averaging double-digit scoring and generally filling up the stat sheet for the Greensboro Swarm during the 2023-24 season, he earned a spot in the Summer League — beginning with the early-start California Classic — with the Swarm’s parent club, the Charlotte Hornets.

However, Garrett, the former defensive stalwart at KU, did not see the floor in any of Charlotte’s three games in Sacramento, on Saturday, Sunday or Tuesday.

The Hornets will tip off in Las Vegas for the first time against New York on Saturday. Garrett is looking to find his way back to the NBA after playing 12 games for the Miami Heat during the 2021-22 season.

photo by: AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Kansas guard Kevin McCullar Jr. (15) celebrates during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against UConn Friday, Dec. 1, 2023, in Lawrence. Kansas won 69-65.

Kevin McCullar Jr.

The Knicks haven’t officially announced a Summer League roster, nor an official contract for the former KU wing. But McCullar, one of a few draft picks by New York (and one of the final selections of the 2024 NBA Draft overall), is a highly likely inclusion — even though the knee bruise that derailed the second half of his final season at KU persisted into his draft process. In fact, KU coach Bill Self suggested in a press release after the draft that McCullar had another setback with his knee early in the offseason.

Depending how much he’s able to play, McCullar could have a chance to demonstrate the considerable two-way talents that had him in All-American consideration early in 2023-24, which could in turn allow him to contribute immediately as an NBA role player, even on an established squad like the Knicks.

photo by: AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie

Brooklyn Nets’ Jalen Wilson (22) drives against Indiana Pacers’ Doug McDermott (20) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York, Wednesday, April 3, 2024.

Jalen Wilson

Like Furphy and McCullar, Wilson slid a little in the NBA Draft, but his fit with the Brooklyn Nets turned out to be a bit of a blessing over the course of the 2023-24 season, which saw him earn heavy playing time on a lackluster squad even as a late-second-round selection.

By the final month of the season, he was averaging 24.1 minutes and 7.6 points per game, after having played just 106 NBA minutes total by the start of February.

Other notes

The Boston Celtics will feature another former Jayhawk, albeit one who finished his collegiate career elsewhere. Tristan Enaruna, who began his career at KU for two seasons before continuing on to Iowa State and then Cleveland State, will also be in competition, following a fifth year of college basketball in which the wing averaged 19.6 points per game for the Vikings.

Last year’s Summer League also included the likes of Udoka Azubuike (who spent 2023-24 with the Phoenix Suns after playing for the Celtics in the Summer League) and David McCormack (who played in Turkey after a Summer League stint with Toronto).

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