By David Pavlak and Christopher Brooks
As the basketball season nears full swing, two former Broncs are furthering their hoop dreams after being drafted into the NBA Development League on Nov. 1. Jeff Jones, ’12, and Nurideen Lindsey will take their basketball expertise to the minor league level with hopes of one day reaching the NBA.
The Iowa Energy, an affiliate of the Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans and Washington Wizards, selected Jones with the first pick of the fourth round.
Eight picks later, another former Rider star would hear his name called when the Delaware 87ers drafted Lindsey. The 87ers are an affiliate of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Kevin Baggett, head coach of the men’s basketball team, was not shocked to hear two of his former players had been drafted into the next level.
“I wasn’t surprised, those guys were good players for us obviously,” Baggett said. “Jones had a really good year for us, averaging 12 points in his only season. Nuri was a little more up and down, but he played at St. Johns, he was a very good player out of junior college, and he did some good things for us. I’m happy for them. I’m happy for their families.”
Lindsey, who appeared in 32 games for the Broncs during the 2012-13 season, averaged eight points per game while shooting .437 from the floor. He also grabbed 91 rebounds and dished out 52 assists.
Lindsey said that he did not have to attend a tryout or combine to be selected in the draft.
“For the D-League, no, but I did go to the NBA combine over the summer, but I tore my groin during my workouts before so I couldn’t perform,” he said. “Fortunately, I got better over the weeks and had some good NBA workouts.”
Lindsey hopes to make an immediate impact when he starts training camp for the 87ers.
“I’m a competitor,” Lindsey said. “We have a lot of talent on this team, so I expect everything to be tough. Nothing was ever easy for me, so I’m always prepared for tough situations.”
Baggett understands the tenacity needed to be successful on the professional level.
“Nuri brings some toughness, street toughness,” he said. “He’s a guy that is very strong minded, he isn’t going to back down from anybody and he’s going to compete at the ultimate level.”
Baggett doesn’t expect Lindsey to have any trouble translating his game to professional play.
“Nuri is a guy who fits that style of being able to get up and down, as opposed to more of a college system where the lane needs to be open for him,” he said. “He’s a guy who can get in the lane and create some problems.”
Baggett compared Lindsey’s story to a fairy tale, and hopes one day he can reach the highest level of competitive basketball: the NBA.
“Off the court, all that happened to Nuri, he deserves a break,” Baggett said. “Two brothers being shot and killed, family struggles, mom’s been sick, that to me is still a Cinderella story for him. I know his ultimate goal is the NBA, but the chance to play in the D-League and maybe a shot to get pulled up to the NBA is something that he dreamed about, so I certainly hope he fulfills his dream.”
Jones, who transferred to Rider after attending the University of Virginia, had a short stint with Kis-Raba menti Takarek Soproni KC in the Hungary-A Division upon graduation. He appeared in 30 games as a Bronc, averaging 13.4 points per game while shooting .459 from the field and .396 from behind the arc. Jones also had 78 rebounds, 29 assists, 28 steals and eight blocks.
Now, Jones looks to make an impact with the Energy in the D-League.
“Jeff had a great work ethic, he was always in the gym,” Baggett said about his former player. “There wasn’t a guy on our team that worked harder than Jeff. He can really shoot the ball. I don’t care what team you have on any level, there is a value to guys who can make shots, and he can certainly do that.”
Both men will now take the Rider name with them as they hope to take this stepping stone and turn it into an NBA career.
“Hopefully at the level that I’m expecting to be on, which is the NBA level,” Lindsey said about where he sees himself in the future. “That’s what I work for, so that’s where I envision myself next year or so. In five years, hopefully I’m established in the NBA, and working on starting a family.”
Jones was unavailable for comment for this piece.