The Idaho Stampede began this season on the road, and after four games they are still looking for their first win.
What the Stampede arent looking for as they prepare for their home opener is their go-to scorer. Durrell Summers has led Idaho which hosts Austin on Friday in scoring in its first four contests. The 6-foot-4 guard scored 21 points in the first game, and followed with 24-, 19- and 18-point efforts.
I think he can be a special player in this league, first-year coach Mike Peck said. Realistically, hes a guy that through the course of the season will get the nod (to play in the NBA).
The NBA Development League is maintaining a list of top prospects this season, and this weeks list ranks Summers as the No. 27 NBA prospect.
If Summers does make it to the next level, he likely wont be daunted by playing on a national stage. In his sophomore year at Michigan State, the Spartans made it to the NCAA championship game before losing 89-72. His junior year, he led Michigan State with 14 points as the Spartans fell to Butler 52-50 in a 2010 Final Four game.
It was a lot of hard work, Summers said of his time at Michigan State. But it was fun. I enjoyed it.
Summers was drafted by Maine of the NBA Development league last year. In his fifth game with the Red Claws he scored 30 points. He also earned a call-up to Charlotte and participated in the Bobcats training camp. But his season ended prematurely when he was forced to have knee surgery.
I dont look at it as a setback, because I learned so much in those six, seven months, Summers said of his rehab time.
I had a lot of time to work on my game and figure out how to get better. I tried to turn it into a positive.
Summers was drafted by Santa Cruz in this years D-League draft, but he had been on Pecks radar, so the coach made a trade to acquire the second-year pro.
Hes one of those guys whose name I saw in the draft way back in September, Peck said. Ive always had an appreciation for players who come from good systems.
And Michigan State coach Tom Izzo is widely regarded as having one of the better college basketball systems in the United States.
Summers said his relationship with his Izzo was at times rocky, but he came to appreciate the coachs toughness.
I had a lot of growing up to do in college, Summers said. You need a tough guy. He sees what you can do and he tries to push you past that. Sometimes you might not understand that in the beginning, but in the long run it helps you.
In much the same way, Summers said he and his teammates can learn from their slow start to the season.
I dont think anybody was getting down after the losses because we know how good we can be once we correct some things, he said.
With a break in the schedule, Idaho will have several days of practice to do just that before Fridays home opener.
Playing in front of our home crowd, that always gives you a little momentum, Summers said. And thats what we need.