Steven Adams 2.0

Weekend Herald - - News - Niall An­der­son

New Zealand have a new NBA hope­ful – with point guard Shea Ili be­ing in­vited to a train­ing camp with the Dal­las Mav­er­icks. Ili ex­plains how he plans to achieve his ul­ti­mate dream.

Shea Ili’s star keeps ris­ing in the basketball world.

The 25-year-old New Zealand Break­ers point guard has been in­vited to an NBA mini-camp with the Dal­las Mav­er­icks, fol­low­ing a sea­son where he con­tin­ued his sub­stan­tial im­prove­ments.

The 2017-18 cam­paign saw Ili named the Aus­tralian NBL’s Most Im­proved Player and he made the Asia Cup’s All-Star Five with the Tall Blacks. He is on track to be the New Zealand NBL MVP and the rash of accolades has now led to his first crack at the NBA.

Ili says he was sur­prised by the tim­ing of the op­por­tu­nity.

“I wasn’t ex­pect­ing this. I was think­ing I’d try to go over to Europe first, but this has come up first and I’ve just got to do my best — go over there and show them what I have. Hope­fully they pick me.”

Ili leaves next Sun­day to join up with the Mav­er­icks for the two-day free agent mini-camp on June 18-19 (US time), where he will try and im­press. Ili fol­lows in the path of Break­ers back­court part­ner Corey Web­ster, who joined the Mav­er­icks for a mini-camp last year and was good enough to get in­vited to NBA Sum­mer League.

Ili has the same am­bi­tion.

“My goal is to try and get to the Sum­mer League week, hope­fully I make that team. It would be great to get there for a week in Ve­gas and be around the new draft class and be around some NBA coaches as well, it would be pretty cool.

“It will be good to go and see where I’m at, to play against them and see how they play, the pace of the game and the ath­leti­cism they have.”

Ili re­cently signed a two-year deal with the Break­ers and is set to be their start­ing point guard this sea­son but the club has al­ways been ac­com­mo­dat­ing to play­ers who want to chase their NBA dream.

“Kevin [Braswell] is a guy who has al­ways wanted me to play over­seas and he’s al­ways pushed me to do that. It’s a pretty sup­port­ive group around me and that gives me con­fi­dence to go over there and do my best — if I need an out clause, then they’ll give me that and it’ll be awe­some if I do get one.”

Ili is star­ring in the New Zealand NBL with the Welling­ton Saints, av­er­ag­ing 26.6 points, 4.7 re­bounds, 7 as­sists and 1.8 steals per game.

His con­tri­bu­tions have been piv­otal to keep an oth­er­wise un­con­vinc­ing Saints ros­ter with a strong 6-1 record.

He will have to briefly leave the Saints as he chases his NBA goal but they, like ev­ery­one else, will be fully sup­port­ive as Ili con­tin­ues his rise.

Shea Ili is aim­ing to make the NBA Sum­mer League dur­ing his brief trip to Dal­las.

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