We're continuing on with the Grizzlies' invitees by profiling Idaho Stampede forward Brent Petway. Petway, who's listed at 6,8", 205 pounds, is an excellent defender who split time between both forward positions, and who made a name for himself last year as a dunker.
How he got here
After attending three different high schools in Georgia, Brent Petway went to the University of Michigan, where he played with fellow D-Leaguer's Courtney Sims and Chris Hunter. These were the Tommy Amaker years, and Amaker became somewhat notorious for not developing any of his players. That includes Petway, who tended to average around 20 minutes a game his last three years there but never gave the team much of a scoring punch.
The talent was certainly there, though. Petway had a few double-doubles as a senior as well as other solid games, including scoring 18 points on 9 shots in 23 minutes along with 7 rebounds and 2 blocks against Minnesota.
After leaving college, Petway was invited to the Portland Trail Blazers' training camp, though he didn't make the cut. He then was drafted both by the Harlem Globetrotters and by the D-League's Idaho Stampede in the second round of the 2007 D-League draft. He chose the latter, and his first year in Idaho he averaged 7 points a game on 54.6 percent shooting, though he didn't show much of an outside shot (29.7 percent on three-pointers) or much of a free-throw touch (59.2 percent from the line). This will be a recurring theme, but shooting isn't his strength anyway, and before the D-League draft, DraftExpress noted,
"Petway has elite athleticism, and could become a lockdown defender in the D-League with the proper focus.
Petway showed that athleticism during the 2008 D-League All-Star weekend, where he won the league's inaugural dunk contest. Petway then decided to challenge NBA dunk contest champion Dwight Howard by posting a video to Youtube in which he replicates Howard's dunks. (For the record, Howard never responded.)
Petway earned an invitation to the 2008 Summer League, courtesy of the Memphis Grizzlies. Petway didn't play much for them, but got invited to the team's training camp, where he also didn't play much. Petway then returned to the Stampede for the 2008-2009 D-League season. We'll take a look at how he did after the jump.
Petway spent most of the year switching between forward positions, playing alongside Lance Allred, Jason Ellis, and Coby Karl at different points in the season. His offense showed overall improvement over his first season despite posting a lower field goal percentage - his free throw percentage, rebounding, three-point shooting, and blocks were all up, and his turnovers went down. At this point, Petway still isn't a consistent offensive contributor, but he has nights where he can get hot. He scored 21 points on 11 shots against Albuquerque in December, 32 points on 16 shots against Bakersfield in January, and shot 4-7 on his threes against Fort Wayne on January 24.
His defense, though, earned Petway an all-star berth and D-League Defensive Player of the Year honors. He's a terrific shot blocker, registering three or more in 14 games this year, including seven against Sioux Falls and three games with six. One of his best all-around games, statistically, was probably March 14 against Rio Grande Valley, when he scored 10 points, pulled in 10 rebounds and had six blocks while guarding Jawad Williams and Stanley Asumnu.
As I mentioned up top, Petway has been invited to tryouts with Memphis (again), and he should eventually stick in the NBA. His offense still needs some work, but it's coming along and he's certainly athletic enough to put it together. His defense, though, is what will get him to the next level. While he's played power forward in college and the D-League, he's a small forward to the NBA, though his experience guarding bigger guys can't hurt.
If you've been paying attention to the NBA Playoffs and seen the Rockets play, that's the kind of defender Petway is. He stays with his man, doesn't gamble for steals, and can block shots from the weak side. As more NBA teams look beyond steals numbers to find solid defenders, Petway's options should expand.