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Toronto Raptors sign former guard Drew Crawford

Toronto Raptors sign former guard Drew Crawford
(Daily file photo by Brian Lee)

The Toronto Raptors agreed to a deal with former Northwestern guard Drew Crawford, the team announced Thursday. After finishing as a top-10 scorer in Israel for Bnei Hertzeliyya, Crawford received an invitation to play for the Raptors in the NBA Las Vegas summer league. Crawford played in five games for Toronto, averaging 8 points per game and shooting 50 percent from the field.

Despite receiving a contract from the Raptors, Crawford is not guaranteed a spot on the roster to begin the season, as the team currently has 18 players listed on its roster, three more than the 15 allowed at the start of the season.

The Wildcats haven’t had a player on a NBA roster during the regular season since Evan Eschmeyer played 17 games for the Dallas Mavericks in 2003. Toronto coach Dwane Casey said Crawford was very close to making the team last year, but fell just short. However, the guard impressed the team this time around with his combination of high-intensity on-ball defense and his ability to create his own shot.

Crawford, who averaged 15.6 points and 6.4 rebounds for NU, will have to compete with the likes of Delon Wright, Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell for a role with the team. Wright, a standout at Utah, was a first-round pick in 2015 and Powell was drafted in the second round in the same draft and flashed majorly with expanded playing time at the end of last season. Like Crawford, VanVleet went undrafted and will also have to prove his worth to the organization.

It will be difficult for Crawford to make the final roster for the Raptors, considering the already talented team is so deep at guard, but Crawford’s signing is promising for the future of Cats basketball and players who plan on playing beyond Welsh-Ryan.

Summer League Roundup: Hearn impresses, Olah sees more time

Summer League Roundup: Hearn impresses, Olah sees more time

Every year, the NBA Summer League is a showcase event for players on the fringes of  basketball  looking for a shot at NBA glory. Stay with The Daily for updates on the summer league play of past Northwestern players trying to make a name for themselves at the next level.

Ex-Wildcat guard Reggie Hearn had a big game for the NBA D-League Select team on Monday, scoring 15 points in just over 20 minutes in a 89-71 win over the Houston Rockets. Hearn was able to get into a rhythm and connected on three of his six three-pointers in the game. He finished the night shooting 5-8 from the field, played the sixth most minutes on the team and didn’t record a single turnover.

The former Northwestern sharpshooter is starting to find his stroke in this year’s summer league and is now 5-8 from three in his last two games. Hearn has impressed with his scoring ability, but his ability to facilitate and find open shooters has been questionable.

Drew Crawford also took the court on Monday for the Toronto Raptors against the Dallas Mavericks, tallying 6 points on 3-5 shooting in a victory. He recorded a single assist, missed both of his three-point attempts and struggled to make a big impact on the game.

The former Cats guard has had a relatively lackluster showing in summer league so far, seeing limited minutes off the bench for the Raptors. However, Toronto is currently 3-0 and is looking at a spot in the summer league playoffs, so Crawford will have another opportunity to prove himself.

Former NU center Alex Olah also registered significant minutes for the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night. The big man finished with 6 points, three rebounds and a block against the Sacramento Kings in the Pelicans’ 70-66 win. Olah was on the court for just under 22 minutes and converted on three of his seven field goal attempts.

The center was noticeably active as a screener on offense, setting frequent off-ball screens to free up shooters. He also often tried to run the pick-and-roll with his New Orleans teammates, but couldn’t seem to get a touch of the ball down low. Olah wasn’t the most graceful player on the court, taking several ill-contested shots. With just one minute left in the game and the Pelicans up by three, the center took a contested hook shot in the post which slammed against the backboard and missed the rim wide left.

Olah didn’t look comfortable with the ball in his hands but he was able to command the paint on defense. The NU standout did a stellar job containing Kings big man Willie Cauley-Stein inside, moved his feet quickly to corral penetration, and only committed three fouls in the game. For Olah, who wasn’t known for his defense in college, it was a positive sign that he might be able to keep up on that end at the next level.

Summer League Roundup: Olah makes debut for New Orleans

Summer League Roundup: Olah makes debut for New Orleans
(Daily file photo by Aleah Matthews-Renner)

Every year, the NBA Summer League is a showcase event for players on the fringes of  basketball  looking for a shot at NBA glory. Stay with The Daily for updates on the summer league play of past Northwestern players trying to make a name for themselves at the next level.

Former Northwestern center Alex Olah made his debut in the NBA Summer League on Sunday, joining three other Wildcats in summer league action.

Olah failed to record a single minute in his first game with the New Orleans Pelicans, but NU’s all-time leader in blocks played 15 minutes against the Utah Jazz.The Romanian product went 0-3 from the field and finished the game with 0 points.

However, Olah managed to make a difference in the paint, grabbing five rebounds and blocking two shots. Olah struggled to find his touch around the rim, but the big man’s rebounding ability looked improved compared to his collegiate career. Olah will play his next game on Monday night against the Sacramento Kings.

Along with Olah, former guards Drew Crawford and Reggie Hearn saw some time in their respective games. Crawford played just over 19 minutes for the Raptors in a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, finishing with 7 points on 3-6 shooting. He continued to impress defensively, tallying a steal and a block, but faced trouble with turnovers and missed both of his 3-point attempts. It seems Crawford has worked his way into a prominent role in Toronto’s summer rotation, as he played the fifth most minutes on the team last night.

Hearn suited up for the NBA D-League Select team again on Sunday against the Milwaukee Bucks and put up improved shooting numbers over his first game, scoring 8 points in 17 minutes. Hearn went 3-4 from the field, including 2-2 from three-point range. But the guard has yet to standout among the amalgam of D-Leaguers, and will have to boost his scoring numbers to attract the attention of NBA scouts and coaches.

While three Cats took the court on Sunday, NU standout Tre Demps didn’t play a single minute for the Chicago Bulls against the Philadelphia 76ers, his second straight game without an appearance for the team. Demps averaged 15.7 points per game last season for the Cats and was known for his ability to create his own shot, but he was one of only three players for the Bulls not to play. He will get another chance for playing time on Tuesday against the San Antonio Spurs to get playing time.

Summer League Roundup: Crawford, Hearn take court in Las Vegas

Every year, the NBA Summer League is a showcase event for players on the fringes of  basketball  looking for a shot at NBA glory. Stay with The Daily for updates on the summer league play of past Northwestern players trying to make a name for themselves at the next level.

Three former Northwestern players started their summer league seasons on Friday, vying for a chance to make a NBA roster.

Guard Reggie Hearn, who ended his Cats career in 2013 and averaged 13.4 points per game in his final season, got the day underway against the Memphis Grizzlies. After starting 22 games for the Reno Bighorns in the NBA D-League last season and averaging 11.5 points per game, Hearn earned an invitation to compete with the NBA D-League Select team.

Despite having a successful season with the Bighorns, Hearn didn’t make much of an impact in his summer-league opener, a 99-79 loss to the Grizzlies. Hearn played just under 18 minutes in the game, missed both of his 3-point attempts and finished with 4 points and a rebound. Hearn will have to wait until Sunday to get back on the court, when his team takes on the Milwaukee Bucks.

Along with Hearn, former guard Drew Crawford opened his summer league season on Friday. After finishing as a top-ten scorer in Israel last season, Crawford scored 8 points and recorded two assists in the Toronto Raptors 88-47 win over the Sacramento Kings. In the blowout, Crawford knocked down both of his three-point attempts and played solid on-ball defense, forcing opposing guards into difficult decisions and drawing offensive fouls.

During the game’s broadcast, Raptors coach Dwane Casey made an appearance and said Crawford was very close to making the team after last year’s summer league and will have a legitimate chance to make the roster this year. Crawford will return to action on Sunday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Rounding out NU notables in Friday’s games was Cats all-time blocks leader Alex Olah, who was one of three New Orleans Pelicans players not to play in the team’s opening game against the Los Angeles Lakers. New Orleans faces Utah on Sunday, when Olah will get another opportunity to potentially see the floor.


Crawford to play with Raptors in summer league

Crawford to play with Raptors in summer league
(Daily file photo by Brian Lee)

Northwestern’s all-time leader in games played Drew Crawford told The Daily that he will play for the Toronto Raptors in the 2016 Las Vegas NBA Summer League from July 8-18. The guard is also registered to compete a team of former Wildcats in The Basketball Tournament held in Chicago, but the summer league will interfere with the first round of the tournament.

“I’m going to focus on summer league, but after it’s over with I’ll look forward to playing in the tournament,” Crawford told The Daily.

Crawford last played for NU during the 2013-2014 season, when he averaged 15.7 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per game. In his program-record 143 games played, Crawford boasted a .369 shooting percentage from three while scoring 1169 career points.

Last season, the former NU star played in Israel for Bnei Herzeliya and averaged 16.2 points per game. Crawford was the No. 11 scorer in Israel’s Winner League.

“My focus is definitely on summer league,” Crawford said. “That’s the big thing to advance the career, to keep moving forward in my career.”

This is not Crawford’s first time playing in the summer league, as he has already had stints with New Orleans, Toronto and Orlando. After not receiving a spot on the Pelicans following the 2014 summer league, Crawford was picked up by the Magic for a brief period of time. He then went on to play a season in the NBA Developmental League for the Erie Bayhawks, where he averaged just over 16 points per game, before making 2015 summer league appearances with both the Magic and the Raptors.

The Raptors play the Sacramento Kings in the team’s first summer league game on Friday, July 8 at 9 p.m. CST.