The NBA Development League or “D-League” as it’s well know held it’s annual draft yesterday, and three former WCC players were selected. David Stockton of Gonzaga was drafted with the 4th pick of the 3rd round (40th overall) by the Maine Red Claws while former Santa Clara teammates Kevin Foster and Ray Cowels were taken by the Reno Bighorns. Foster was selected with the 12th pick of the 4th round (66th overall) while Cowels was taken with the 4th pick of the 8th round (112nd overall). Cowels was the final pick in the draft.
The NBA D-League Draft is a major part of the season for the these teams. Each one has only a couple players on an NBA roster while the rest of their team is made up of returning D-League players or new draft picks. The three WCC players selected will sign contracts with the NBA, not with individual teams. As a result, their contracts can be purchased by any NBA team. Stockton, Foster, and Cowels will have a great shot at proving themselves to NBA teams with this opportunity.
March 9, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs guard David Stockton (11) dribbles against the Loyola Marymount Lions during the first half in the semifinals of the West Coast Conference tournament at Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Stockton was named one of the D-League’s 15 Most Intriguing Draft Prospects after spending the summer trying to make an NBA team outright. Stockton spent time with the San Antonio Spurs summer league team, and he was in training camp with the Washington Wizards before being cut in early October.
Stockton was a key cog last year for the Bulldogs. He was one of three players to start all 35 games for Gonzaga, and he led the team in assists per game. He is a clone of his father, legendary Hall of Fame guard David Stockton. He’s talented in his own right, but teams seeing a lot of his father in him is probably going a long way to help his reputation. It’s good to see him getting a shot to become a quality assists man in the D-League. Teams can use that kind of playmaker, so if he does well he has a shot with his name recognition. NBA teams will be watching him for sure.
Kevin Foster is one of the greatest players in both WCC and Santa Clara history. He burst onto the scene his freshman year setting multiple conference and school records en route to WCC Co-Newcomer of the Year and Freshman All-American honors. After missing most of the next season due to injury. Foster led Santa Clara to two of their most successful seasons in recent history. In 2010-11 he led the nation in three pointers and led the Broncos to the CIT Tournament championship while being named Tournament MVP. The next year he led them to the CBI Tournament Championship and was again named Tournament MVP. He also set the career scoring record for Santa Clara.
March 8, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Santa Clara Broncos guard Kevin Foster (21) shoots the ball against Loyola Marymount Lions forward Nick Stover (11) during the first half in the quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference tournament at Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Foster has bounced around some international teams including Turkey and Germany before his D-League selection. He got some looks by NBA teams coming out college in 2013, but like many WCC players he didn’t get s hot and settled for Europe. This represents a good chance to finally make it into the NBA, and he has the talent to do it. It’s somewhat surprising after how easily he dominated the WCC that he didn’t get more of a shot last year, but now is his chance.
The only question is will he take it? Europe can be a very lucrative opportunity for good American players who don’t want to struggle here trying to make the NBA. Foster will have to decide if playing in Europe and making more money serves him better than coming back to America and struggling for money and attention in the D-League. It wouldn’t be a shock if he stays over there. But considering he’s still young his NBA dream is far from dead. I’m guessing he will take his chances in the D-League in hopes of getting more attention from NBA scouts.
Ray Cowels was Foster’s teammate during their time at Santa Clara, although he didn’t put up as flashy of numbers. He didn’t become a full-time starter until his junior season, and even then he was still putting up only 9-10 points per game. He was a good three point shooter however, averaging about two per game. Between him and Foster, you can imagine them raining down threes as the Broncos rode them to their back-to-back CIT and CBI Tournament titles.
Feb. 20, 2013; Spokane, WA, USA; Santa Clara Broncos guard Raymond Cowels III (42) drives the baseline against Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Gary Bell Jr. (5) during the first half at the McCarthey Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Like Foster, Cowels went undrafted last season and ended up in Europe. He ended up in on a team in Holland, not exactly the highest level of European basketball. His team in Europe, the Den Helder Kings, have swapped out Cowels for another former WCC player in Cole Dickerson formerly of San Francisco. Unlike Foster, Cowels is probably going to be jumping at this opportunity to come back to the states. Players in Holland aren’t going to get the same looks, and the leagues Foster was playing in over in Europe were much more recognizable by comparison.
Perhaps the idea of joining forces again will inspire both Foster and Cowels to take this opportunity. They can make each other better by reviving their old chemistry from their college days, and it could make both of them better and look more appealing to the scouts. It’s a good opportunity made even better by the chance to play together. They have to be happy with how it happened, and if they have kept in touch since college no doubt they’ve already contacted each other upon hearing the news of being drafted onto the same team.
All three former players have landed in good positions, and all three have real opportunities to do well and get the attention of the NBA. They have their shot, and now it’s up to them to deliver. Many guys never get their shot, so they need to make the most of it.