Harvard’s Jeremy Lin knows what it feels like to be overlooked.
After leading his high school basketball team to victory in the 2006 California state championship, the skinny, Asian-American point guard did not receive a single Division I scholarship offer.
The situation seemed oddly familiar on Thursday night at the 2010 NBA Draft.
For more than four hours, Jeremy Lin—widely considered the best player to don a Harvard basketball uniform—waited to see if his name would be called.
But when the 60th and final pick of the 2010 NBA Draft was announced around midnight, Lin was still waiting.
Like dozens of NBA hopefuls, Lin was left on the outside at the conclusion of Thursday night’s draft.
Although considered an unlikely selection in a deep draft class that featured talented prospects from around the world, many of Lin’s fans and supporters maintained hope that the former Crimson co-captain, who led Harvard to its best season in school history, would become the first Ivy Leaguer to be drafted since Penn’s Jerome Allen in 1995.
While he was not able to end the Ancient Eight’s 15-year drought, Lin’s chances of making an NBA roster were not terribly damaged.
Even if Lin had been selected in the second round, his path to the NBA would likely go through the same all-important stop as his current one—the NBA Summer League.
The NBA Summer League, which takes place in Las Vegas from July 9-18, pits young NBA players, draftees, and undrafted players against each other in a series of exhibition contests to both train prospects and weed out unqualified players.
Lin stated before the draft that regardless of whether he was selected, he had already received offers from different NBA teams to join their Summer League squads.
Yesterday afternoon, the Dallas Morning News reported that Lin—who worked out with the Mavericks last week—will attend a mini-camp hosted by the Mavericks on Monday and Tuesday of next week and could potentially be included on the team’s summer league roster.
A strong showing against other competitors at the NBA Summer League could—although it is still unlikely—land Lin a contract with a team for the 2010-2011 NBA season.
While winning over scouts and coaches with a strong performance this summer will be no easy task, the transition from undrafted player to NBA regular has been done many times before.
At the beginning of the 2010 NBA season, 49 players who had not been drafted were included on NBA rosters. Some undrafted players, such as Ben Wallace, Brad Miller, and Jose Calderon have gone on to very successful NBA careers.
But according to most scouts, the more likely result for Lin at the conclusion of the NBA Summer League is that he will have to make a choice between playing professionally overseas or trying his luck in the NBA Development League—the NBA’s minor league organization.
“If he doesn’t make a team, then [Lin] has a choice; do I want to make [some money] overseas or do I want to sacrifice some to play in the D-League for not much money for a year or two and see if I can get lucky and get called up,” said Ryan Feldman, editor of Hoops Report.
Harvard’s last legitimate NBA prospect, seven-footer Brian Cusworth, who averaged three points and half a rebound per game for the Golden State Warriors during the 2007 NBA Summer League, faced a similar decision after he was not signed by the Warriors.
Cusworth chose to go overseas, playing in Estonia before landing in his current position as a player in Spain’s top basketball league.
Cornell’s Jeff Foote, who also went undrafted last night, has already signed with the top Israeli club, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv.
“[Lin] can play for any team like that,” Feldman said. “Jeremy Lin’s a little different because there are plenty of point guards his size, [but] he should be playing for one of the better teams in Europe.”
But before Lin settles for a career in Europe, the point guard will try to prove, once again, that he was overlooked.