Stampede rookie wants to prove all-around worth

EJ Singler can shoot, but hopes to show he can do more.

clangrill@idahostatesman.comNovember 21, 2013 

— EJ Singler played four seasons of basketball at Oregon and left the program ranked 11th in career scoring with 1,546 points.

Tuesday night, the forward went 6-for-9 from the field and 4-for-5 from 3-point range as he scored 18 points in the Idaho Stampede’s preseason game against the Reno Bighorns.

Clearly the NBA Development League rookie can score. But he wants fans to know he’s more than that.

“I don’t want to be labeled as just a shooter,” Singler said Wednesday after practice as Idaho prepared to play its season opener at 7 p.m. Friday at CenturyLink Arena in Boise. “I like to be a team player that does a little bit of everything on the court. I want to be known for doing a lot of different things.”

Second-year coach Mike Peck thinks that’s exactly what fans will learn to appreciate about Singler as the season progresses.

“He rebounds, he can score mid-range, he can shoot the 3, he can drive,” Peck said. “He’s an all-purpose player, a good basketball player, like Gordon Hayward is at Utah.”

The 6-foot-6, 215-pound Singler is one of three Idaho players who attended the Portland Trail Blazers’ training camp. Portland is the single NBA affiliate of the Stampede.

“He worked hard; he made our practices better,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts told the Oregon media after Singler’s release.

“I think it was good being in that camp, and now I can come to the D-League and apply what I learned,” Singler said. “I think that’s when you really grow, when you learn and you’re able to play through it and learn from your mistakes and get that game experience.”

You could say that’s exactly what Singler and his teammates did during his four years at Oregon.

“I grew as a player and we got better each year when I was there,” he said. “We didn’t make it to the postseason my freshman year. My sophomore year we went to the CBI tournament. Junior year, we went to the NIT, and then senior year we went to the NCAAs. So we made progress each and every year.”

He definitely made his senior year memorable. The No. 12-seeded Ducks made a run to the Sweet 16, and Singler earned All-Pac-12 first-team honors.

“I had a great experience there,” he said.

Even if his parents had to begrudgingly cheer him on.

“My mom played basketball at Oregon State and my dad played football there,” Singler said. “They rooted for (Oregon) during basketball season, but during football season, or any other season, they rooted for Oregon State.”

But now his parents don’t have to fight through divided loyalties. They can be full-fledged Stampede fans as their son begins his professional journey.

“I’m really excited to take that next step,” Singler said.

Chris Langrill: 377-6424

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