SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Tex. — Othyus Jeffers tasted life in the NBA last season, earning a Gatorade Call-Up and 14 games with the Utah Jazz. He’s back with the Iowa Energy this year and unsure if another trip the big league is around the corner.
And that’s ok.
“I’m not worried about it,” Jeffers said Monday after leading Iowa to an overtime win over the Utah Flash. “If it happens, it happens. If not, I’m here in the D-League.”
Jeffers is going his part to get back, averaging 20.3 points and 9.0 rebounds going into the Showcase despite being a 6-5 swingman playing somewhat out of position. The 25-year-old Chicago native said he’s a more of a perimeter player but forced to play inside for the Energy.
Jeffers knows the drill, though. It’s not so much about his skill set, but what prospective NBA teams are looking for.
“It’s about finding the right spot,” Jeffers said. “I’m grateful to be in position with the Iowa Energy where I can showcase my talents even though here I’m still not playing my natural position, but we have talent here.”
Jeffers said he honed his not so much in college — he attended three — but playing pro-am ball in Chicago against NBA players such as Michael Finley, Antoine Walker and Corey Maggette. And there was the end of last season playing under legendary Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan.
“The stint with the Jazz — straight execution,” Jeffers said. “I don’t care who you are, we executed.”
His execution was pretty close to perfect to finish off the Flash. Jeffers tied the game with a 3-point play in the last minute and assisted on Curtis Stinson‘s buzzer-beater to win the game.
“The GMs and the teams, they know what we can do already,” Jeffers said. “They’re just trying to see firsthand — a lot of people got cut — and who they’re going to bring in for those spots.”
FRIENDLY PAYBACK: New Mexico guard Dar Tucker spent a few minutes before the Thunderbirds’ opening game visiting with his former coach and teammates. Then he helped beat the Texas Legends.
Tucker scored a game-high 28, knocking down 5 of 6 3-pointers, as New Mexico rallied from 16 down to nip Texas 95-94.
“I had a lot of energy today,” said Tucker, a two-year D-League vet out of DePaul. “Biggest thing for us was our defense. We played excellent defense.”
Tucker began the season with the Legends before being traded in November for a future second-round pick. He appreciated the time in Texas playing for Nancy Lieberman.
“There’s no hard for me or for them,” Tucker said. “I talked to a couple of the guys and to Nancy. She told me to keep my head up.”
COMING UP: The first Gatorade Call-Up of the season beat the opening of the Showcase by one day. The Phoenix Suns signed Tulsa guard Zabian Dowdell to a 10-day contract on Sunday. Dowdell increases the number of current NBA players with D-League experience to 70.
Dowdell (6-3, 190) started all of the 66ers’ first 10 games, leading Oklahoma City Thunder’s affiliate to a Western Conference-best 12-6 record. The Virginia Tech product, a member of the Suns’ Summer League team, averaged team highs in points (14.5), assists (4.6) and steals (2.4) in 29.3 minutes per game.
TOUGH LUCK: The Reno Bighorns have waived point guard Aaron Miles on Monday after the D-League’s assists leader injured his left knee Wednesday. Miles was averaging 8.8 assists per game and also leading the D-League with 2.5 steals per game.
Reno has actually waived two starters in the last two weeks, having waved goodbye to center Nick Fazekas after he hurt his ankle. The Bighorns do retain the rights to both Miles and Fazekas.
Monday Showcase Schedule/Results
Tulsa 103, Sioux Falls 83
Iowa 95, Utah 93 (OT)
New Mexico 95, Texas 94
Rio Grande Valley 100, Fort Wayne 97
Tuesday Showcase Schedule (times ET)
Dakota vs. Austin, 12:00 pm, NBA TV
Springfield vs. Utah, 2:45 pm, NBA TV
New Mexico vs. Maine, 5:30 pm, NBA Futurecast
Erie vs. Idaho, 8:15 pm, NBA Futurecast