Boise State Basketball

Former Boise State basketball star earns some prime NBA minutes

Brooklyn Nets forward James Webb III (0) pulls down a rebound against New York Knicks forward Michael Beasley (8) during the third quarter Jan. 30 in New York.
Brooklyn Nets forward James Webb III (0) pulls down a rebound against New York Knicks forward Michael Beasley (8) during the third quarter Jan. 30 in New York. AP

Chandler Hutchison might not be alone on an NBA roster next season.

Though the current Boise State senior standout is playing his way into first-round draft pick status, another ex-Bronco has made it into the league the hard way.

James Webb III, who went undrafted in 2016, made his NBA debut Jan. 27 for the Brooklyn Nets and has earned double-digit minutes in the past six games. In seven games, he is averaging 2.0 points and 3.0 rebounds per game, shooting 26.3 percent from the field.

In the Nets’ most recent games, on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Rockets and Pistons, Webb played 33 minutes, scoring nine points and pulling down 10 rebounds.

“He plays hard, he’s a great guy,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson told the team’s website Monday. “He hasn’t made a ton of shots, but he can obviously spread the floor. He shoots the ball, he’s athletic. He can run and he’s obviously active.”

Webb is just the fifth former Boise State/Boise Junior College player to appear in an NBA game, joining Coby Karl, Chris Childs, John Coker and Gus Johnson. Webb said that as a first-year player he wants to bring the same sort of aspects he did while at Boise State.

“Just to play my game, bring energy every game,” he said. “Every time I step on the floor to knock down open shots when I got them. Just do the stuff that I do, the hustle plays.”

At Boise State, Webb redshirted the 2013-14 season after transferring from North Idaho College. He exploded onto the scene coming off the bench early his sophomore season and averaged 15.8 ppg and 9.1 rpg as a junior in 2015-16. He declared for the NBA Draft but was not selected. The Philadelphia 76ers signed him as a free agent, and he spent his first pro season playing for the team’s G-League affiliate.

He fractured an ankle last March, ending his season, but returned to the Delaware 87ers to start the 2017-18 season. He was averaging 11.6 ppg and 6.7 rpg before the Nets (19-37) signed him to a two-way deal Jan. 15. He averaged 12.4 ppg and 6.0 rpg in five games for the Long Island Nets. Two-way deals are new to the NBA this season, allowing teams to freely move players up or down, but the players can spend a maximum of 45 days in the NBA before being signed to a full contract or sent to the G-League.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s groin injury prompted Webb’s call-up, and his return is uncertain. Once Hollis-Jefferson is back on the roster, Webb could be returned to Long Island, but having some positive showings in the NBA can only help his future.

Next up for the Nets is a home game against the Pelicans on Saturday.

Here is Webb’s first NBA score:

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