NBL lures another NBA draftee as Devon Hall joins Cairns

The NBL has lured another aspiring NBA talent to Australia this summer with NBA draft pick Devon Hall joining the Cairns Taipans.

Hall was drafted in the second round (pick 53) by Oklahoma City Thunder earlier this year after a stellar career at the highly ranked University of Virginia.

The 23-year-old shooting guard played in the NBA Summer League with the Thunder but with their roster full decided to play in Australia this season before chasing his NBA dreams again next year.

Under NBA rules the Thunder retain Hall’s draft rights and are the only NBA team who can sign him but he is free to play overseas or with their NBA G-League team Oklahoma City Blue.

Hall follows in the footsteps of past second-round picks James Ennis (Perth Wildcats), Jordan McRae (Melbourne United) and Marcus Thornton (Sydney Kings) who have all made the NBA after their stints in Australia, while Terrance Ferguson was drafted in the first round by the Thunder last year after a season with Adelaide 36ers.

But Cairns will be the first regionally based NBL side to sign a second-round pick although they provided undrafted point guard Scottie Wilbekin with a springboard to the NBA a few years ago as he turned a strong NBL season into an NBA deal with Philadelphia.

Small forward Torrey Craig also made the Denver Nuggets roster last season and earned a new contract for this season after time with the Taipans and Brisbane Bullets.

The NBL continues to work to lure aspiring NBA talents to the league, including US high school stars, with the Sydney Kings signing teenage small forward Brian Bowen last week under the NBL’s Next Stars program.

New Taipans coach Mike Kelly praised Hall as a two-way player who shoots well from the three-point line and played on a team which posted a 30-2 record in college basketball last year before it fell short in the NCAA Tournament.

“When we were looking to complete our team with a perimeter guy, we wanted someone who could shoot, defend and create,” Kelly said.

“Devon has shown in his time with Virginia, and in the Summer League, that he can do all these things at a very high level.

“Sometimes as a coach, you have to trade-off shooting accuracy for the ability to defend, or get to the basket. But with Devon, we won’t have to do that – he shoots at 43 per cent from three. No trade-offs with him.

“I’ve found him to be confident, but at the same time very humble, and hardworking. He has worked very hard to go from being an impressive college player, to an NBA draft pick.

“There is a long way between those two points.”

The Taipans have also signed former Maryland point guard Melo Trimble, who is another player chasing his NBA dreams and could prove a surprise packet this season.

Melbourne United hope to announce at least one import signing this week as they continue talks with star point guard Casper Ware along with a versatile small forward and a centre.

Some future NBL talents were on show at the FIBA under-18 Asian championships on Saturday night as Australia beat New Zealand 72-63 in the gold medal game, with Kody Stattmann (17 points) and Kyle Bowen (13 points, 10 rebounds) leading the Emus.

Big man Callum Dalton has already signed with Brisbane Bullets as a development player while guard Tamari Wigness is one of several players on the team the NBL hopes to sign in coming years.

Australia, New Zealand, China and Philippines have qualified for next year’s FIBA under-19 World Cup after making the semi finals.

US college sides Hawaii, Drexel and Loyola Marymount are visiting Melbourne over the next week as part of Australian tours, with Melbourne United to face LMU in Cranbourne on Thursday night.

US COLLEGE GAMES

August 13 Melbourne Tigers v University of Hawaii, Veneto Club, Bulleen, 7pm
August 14 Dandenong Rangers v Loyola Marymount University, Dandenong Stadium, 7pm
August 15 Diamond Valley Eagles v University of Hawaii Women, Parade College, Bundoora, 7pm.
August 16 Melbourne United v LMU, Casey Basketball Stadium, Cranbourne, 7pm
August 20 Dandenong Rangers v Drexel University, Dandenong Stadium, 7pm
August 21 Hoops 24/7 All-Stars v Drexel University, Cardinia Life, Pakenham, 7pm.

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