The Commercial Appeal

Stephens to play for Heat in summer

Thomas picks Hawks

- By Jason Smith

D.J. Stephens is going to have to prove he’s good enough — all over again.

The former University of Memphis forward, whose rise from wobbly- k need f r e s h ma n project to highf lying senior leader earned him hero status among Tigers fans, has accepted an i nv i t at i on to play with the Miami Heat in the NBA’s Orlando Summer League.

Meanwhile, former Tigers forward Adonis Thomas, who along with Stephens went undrafted Thursday, has decided to play for the Atlanta Hawks in the Las Vegas Summer League. Thomas, who hopes to sign a deal with the Hawks, also considered a free-agent camp invitation from the Los Angeles Lakers.

Stephens begins summer league play with the Heat on July 7 against the Utah Jazz. He’s also considerin­g playing with the Heat or the Toronto Raptors in the Las Vegas Summer League later in July.

Stephens was the 201213 Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year and the Tigers’ leader in blocks (95), rebounds (6.6 per game) and field-goal percentage (62.9) as a senior last season.

“Just another opportunit­y for me to prove myself,” he said Friday. “I feel like I belong, but now I just gotta show everyone that I do. It’s not the end of the world that I didn’t get drafted. Just the start of my lengthy career of play- D. J. Stephens Adonis Thomas

ing basketball.”

Thomas was the Tigers’ second-leading scorer last season (11.7 points per game) and, along with Stephens, a third-team allConfere­nce USA selection. He’ll begin summer league play in Las Vegas on July 12 when Atlanta plays the Los Angeles Clippers.

GERON JOHNSON AT DURANT CAMP

Tigers senior guard Geron Johnson is attending Nike’s Kevin Durant Skills Academy in Washington this weekend.

The event, which began Friday, annually invites the nation’s top college and high school wing players.

Last summer, Thomas was among a group of high-profile Durant camp participan­ts that included Otto Porter, Tim Hardaway Jr., C.J. McCollum, Michael Snaer, Elias Harris, Solomon Hill and Nate Wolters. Former Tigers forward Wesley Witherspoo­n participat­ed in 2010.

Johnson was the Tigers’ third-leading scorer (10.4 ppg) and rebounder (4.6 rpg) last season. The third-team all-C-USA selection and Dayton, Ohio, native ranked second on the team in steals (59) and assists (117).

Durant’s skills camp is closed to the public, but open to NBA scouts and player personnel executives. Johnson was one of several U of M players who sought informatio­n this spring from the NBA’s undergradu­ate advisory committee on his 2013 draft status.

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