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Four Thoughts on Big 12 NBA Summer League Debuts

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament East Regional-Michigan State vs Kansas State

With some highly-anticipated Big 12 players earning their first taste of NBA action this week, the best conference in college basketball continues to prove its worth when producing NBA-level talent.

Multiple players from the Big 12 Conference found success on the court in their first Summer League game including Markquis Nowell, Jalen Wilson, Keyontae George, Erik Stevenson, and more who all lit it up in their own rights, with Nowell even trending on social media following Friday night’s game between the Raptors and the Bulls.

With more games on the schedule this weekend and more former Big 12 players set to step on the court, here are four thoughts on the first taste of action for some key former members of the Big 12 Conference.



Toronto Raptors guard Markquis Nowell has been in the business of proving people wrong his entire life thanks to his short stature, and that was no different on Friday. The Kansas State product hit the court in a Raptors jersey for the first time alongside Kansas‘ guard Gradey Dick, and while Nowell will always be remembered for his legendary Elite Eight run with the Wildcats back in March, all signs point to that level of play being the norm for the New York native going forward.

Nowell led the Raptors with 17 points, five assists, four rebounds, and three steals on the day going four of six from three-point land including a patented three-ball from the logo that Big 12 fans are very familiar with. It was more of the same for Mr. New York City as he stacked flashy pass on flashy pass including a no-look dime to Moses Brown for a dunk at the cup. Nowell not only proved that he can be successful at the NBA level despite his size, but he also was the best player on the court for the Raptors and has all the momentum to be a big piece for the squad moving forward.


While everyone hopes their first taste of NBA action will be a storybook moment, Gradey Dick found out the hard way that the first game is just one piece of the story. The young guard from Kansas couldn’t get things going with his jump shot and looked outsized and nervous in his first game, and while it’s easy to overreact to a shooter not finding rhythm, it’s important to keep in mind that the kid is only nineteen years old.

Dick had a rough go of things shooting but made up for it with some hustle and effort chasing down loose balls and going up for rebounds. He ended his first game for the Raptors with 10 points, four rebounds, and two assists while going 3-12 from the field, and 2-9 from the three-point line. In all honesty, watching the game live, Dick looked to be a little nervous so while Raptors fans might joke about the performance and have some skepticism about the first-rounder from KU, I wouldn’t expect the rough start to continue for Gradey Dick.



The only difference between Friday’s performance against the Cleveland Cavaliers and a random Tuesday night game in the Big 12 for Jalen Wilson was the color of his jersey. Wilson relied on a lot of his skills that were showcased at Kansas including being lethal in transition, driving for contact, and an effective mid-range game to stack up points and help the Nets secure their first win of the Summer League slate.

Wilson finished his night off with 17 points and five rebounds while going 6-14 from the floor. It was a tale of two halves for Wilson as he only scored three points in the first half before exploding for 14 all in the third quarter. While the summer league may not always be the best evaluator of if a player will find success in the regular season or not, Wilson is well on his way to contributing for the Nets this season.


The NBA Summer League is a great opportunity for players both drafted and undrafted to get a shot at playing professionally, and we’ve seen some big nights from both. Both Markquis Nowell and West Virginia‘s Erik Stevenson popped in their first game of action with Stevenson going for 13 points, two rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes for the Spurs. Baylor‘s Keyontae George and Kansas Gradey Dick were the lottery pick type players in for the Big 12 this season with Dick going at No. 13 to the Toronto Raptors, and George being selected by the Utah Jazz at No. 16. George showed off his skills in his first NBA game by putting up 18 points, five rebounds, and four assists in the Jazz 85-95 loss against the OKC Thunder.


While the Big 12 Conference has many more former players who have yet to make their debut including Kansas State’s star forward Keyontae Johnson who’s been sidelined with an injury, Oklahoma’s Grant Sherfield, Baylor’s Adam Flagler, and more, the conference has shown it’s ability to produce athletes that can perform at the highest level.

With roster changes happening every day in the NBA, the former Big 12 members will continue to compete and work their way into earning a contract for a professional team. Many former Big 12 players have found success in the NBA including league MVP Joel Embiid, former Texas forward Kevin Durant, former Oklahoma guard Trae Young, and more, and with the first week of NBA Summer League in the books, the next wave of NBA players from the Big 12 Conference are here.

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