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Recapping NBA Summer League showings by eight former Creighton players

Recapping NBA Summer League showings by eight former Creighton players

Ty-Shon Alexander

Ty-Shon Alexander played just 47 total game minutes during the 2020-21 season. But he took the court Sunday night late in Game 3 of the NBA Finals against Milwaukee.

Jon Nyatawa recaps a busy NBA summer league for several former Jays.

In the last five years, Creighton's won 112 games, breached the top 10 with three different teams, claimed a share of a Big East title and reached the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16.

And now the players responsible for that run of success are trying to make their way in the NBA.

Eight former Bluejays suited up for NBA Summer League action earlier this month in Las Vegas. They're all working to earn a roster spot and a chance.

Here's a breakdown of each guy's performance:

Ty-Shon Alexander

Alexander signed a two-way deal with the Phoenix Suns after going undrafted in 2020. He used his rookie year to work on his game behind the scenes, playing sparingly for a veteran squad that ultimately reached the NBA Finals.

So this summer was huge for Alexander.

He averaged 11.2 points in five summer league games, pulling down 1.8 rebounds and dishing out 1.8 assists per night. He didn't shoot the ball great — just 33.9% from the floor. But he showcased his ability to create good looks and revealed his potential as a defender.

Said Suns summer league coach Brian Randle: "(Alexander's) a natural scorer. That's what he did in college and it's one of those gifts you can't really teach. ... But I'm going to say, his defensive ability, his awareness and his eagerness to get a stop was even more important and encouraging for us."

Alexander's expected to be back with the Suns next year.

Mitch Ballock

The sharpshooter's stock seemed to rise as draft night approached this summer, but he ultimately wasn't selected and ended up joining the Philadelphia 76ers' summer league squad without a contract.

He missed all seven of his shots in limited playing time during his first three appearances. But then in the Sixers' summer league finale, Ballock earned a start and contributed eight points (3 of 8 shooting).

Ballock will presumably be in the mix for a training camp invite and/or a spot in the G League.

Marcus Foster

Foster's been playing internationally since his Bluejay career ended in 2018, but he was back in the States this summer. To get married. And, apparently, to ball. The Houston Rockets picked up Foster, who got to play a couple games alongside former CU teammate Khyri Thomas.

Foster averaged 6.5 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists in four contests. He made 44% of his field goal tries.

Foster could always go back overseas. He's been an impact player in South Korea, Israel, Turkey and Greece. But maybe he can get a training camp look from an NBA team.

Damien Jefferson

The playmaking guard joined up with the Sacramento Kings this summer. The team that ended up winning the whole Vegas tournament. So he was part of a championship squad.

But Jefferson's time on the court was minimal. He didn't play in three of the Kings' first four games — the one time during that span that he did see the court, he logged just four minutes. In the summer league title game, Jefferson grabbed a rebound and made a driving layup in four minutes of action.

Jefferson will presumably be on the radar of G League squads.

Denzel Mahoney

Mahoney went undrafted in 2021 and found a home with the Charlotte Hornets, a franchise that he worked out for just a few days before the draft. His best performance came in his final summer league game: Mahoney started and finished with three points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals in 19 minutes.

Mahoney's another former CU player looking to land on a G League roster.

Justin Patton

The former first-round NBA draft pick started last season in the G League before signing a two-way contract with Houston. Patton was decent for the Rockets, averaging 5.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 13 games. But he didn't stick there.

So Patton's in prove-it mode again.

Unfortunately for the Omaha product, he appeared in just one summer league game with the New York Knicks' squad. Patton had four points, three rebounds and a block in 11 minutes. That was his line from the first game. He didn't play after that.

Patton's still just 24 years old.

Khyri Thomas

He had a right-place, right-time story at the end of last season. Thomas, a former 2018 NBA draft pick, signed a 10-day deal with the Rockets — and took full advantage of his opportunity. He averaged 16.4 points, 5.0 assists and 1.8 steals in five games. He reportedly signed a multi-year deal.

Thomas' work ethic has apparently left a positive impression on the Rockets coaching staff since then. Summer league coach Will Weaver mentioned Thomas as one of the guys who's spent most of the offseason working out in Houston.

A minor groin injury ended Thomas' summer league experience early. In his two games, he combined for 20 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

Marcus Zegarowski

Marcus Zegarowski was drafted 49th overall by the Brooklyn Nets back in July. It was assuredly a rewarding moment for the talented point guard.

But he has work to do.

Zegarowski averaged 8.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steals in three appearances with the Nets' summer ball team. He didn't play in the first two games.

Brooklyn's roster is nearly full after a few offseason moves. Zegarowski is in the mix for a two-way deal. But NBA rules allow teams to retain the rights to their drafted players if they send them down to their affiliate G League team, so maybe that's the route the Nets end up choosing for Zegarowski.

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