This past summer, the stage was set at Adelphi University for the Malone Mulhall Benefit Game.
Aside from supporting a tremendous cause, the MMBG also does a great job assembling skilled local talent to put on a great show for basketball fans. The contest was highlighted by participation from NBA guards like Danny Green & Scott Machado.
Aside from Green and Machado, talented players who have played overseas, were college stars, and even some who had recently worked out for NBA teams in the offseason, all took part in the contest. Many had their own certain amount of fame, notoriety, and/or reputations.
But when the game started, amongst all that talent was a gritty big man right in the thick of it. Competing against NBA-ready talent, Siena College alum Ryan Rossiter could be found not only hitting a mid-range jump shot here and there, but also forcing his way inside and pestering opponents on defense with his quick hands.
After making quite the impression on fans during the charity game, it's those same type of skills that helped Rossiter feel confident enough to enter into this year's NBA D-League Draft.
"After playing last season in France, while I'm still talking to a couple teams overseas now, I'm looking at what will ultimately be the best option," Rossiter said. "I'm thinking the D-League might be something good to do this year, obviously because of the exposure. Following my senior school at Siena, I wasn't able to get involved in Summer League due to the lockout."
"I'm aiming to get my name back out there," he added. "The D-League is a great way to do that. There are scouts at all the games, and you get to meet people who know people. Hopefully this can help lead me to the NBA, but if not, there are other options too."
Should Rossiter choose to look for further motivation to join the NBADL, he won't have to look very far. His former college teammate, Edwin Ubiles, won the D-League's "Rookie of the Year" award in 2012, all the while averaging 19.9 points and 5 rebounds per game for the Dakota Wizards. Ubiles also achieved the ultimate goal, receiving a call-up from the NBA Wizards in March as well.
In addition to Ubiles, Rossiter added that fellow Sienna alum Kenny Hasbrouck also used the D-League as his springboard to the NBA. "Just to be able to reach out to those guys and talk about their experience," the big man said, "is going to be great. I know they'll help me out anyway they can."
As he settles in to the D-League this season, the 6'9" forward recognized that while the competition will be fierce with everyone chasing that same dream, the familiarity he has with many players after facing them in college or seeing them play, will help him adjust to playing in the states once again, rather than overseas.
And as Rossiter joins a group of players each on their own quest to prove they have what it takes to make it to The Association, he himself has a clear vision of how can potentially be an asset to an NBA team. The big man asserted, "Everyone wants to be the LeBron's or Kobe's of the league, and it's obviously a great dream to have, but I'm realistic, If I'm in the NBA, my job won't be to score 20 points. I'm going to be expected to be a guy that makes the extra pass. I need to be a tough defender, grabbing tough rebounds while diving for every loose ball. On offense, I can set screens for people, creating offense for others, and knock down the jumper when it's there."
Rossiter seems to understand that his gateway to the NBA will be his ability to do all the little things (aka the dirty work) on the hardwood, and feels as though his time at Siena prepared him well enough to take on such a challenge.
He continued, "I learned how to do that in college, because as a younger player, I didn't have too many calls necessarily called for me. I had to learn how to affect the game without really shooting or scoring. I keep in the back of my mind that there are still ways to do that. Maybe it's by being able to defend an opponent's best player well enough that he ends up scoring only 5 points, instead of 20. I take a lot of pride in that."
Physical capabilities aside, when filling out a roster, NBA teams obviously look for players who are fundamentality sound and have a high level of maturity. In the past few seasons, big league squads have acquired players more and more based on their basketball IQ.
Rossiter is certainly the type of player who fits that mold. He cited his basketball upbringing at Siena, where the squad took pride in watching tape and scouting players an in-depth amount to learn exactly how to stop them and know what to expect, as proof.
There are plenty of players who can score the ball at an efficient rate. But with so many offensive stars already in the NBA, breaking into the league is about so much more than that, now more than over. Rossiter is a steady-minded big man who understands his role, and is looking to utilize his skills in order to show there are ways he help an NBA squad. The D-League seems likely to start providing him with that well-needed exposure and opportunity come November 2nd.