An abundance of promising basketball prospects saw themselves officially thrust into the NBA D-League as their numbers were called by respective minor league squads in last week's 2012 NBADL Draft.
Still, just as a few D-League players have unfortunately fallen below the NBA radar over the years, a couple of talented players also fell through the cracks in the draft as well.
One of those players was Western Kentucky's Kahlil McDonald. A combo guard of sorts, McDonald keeps the defense on its toes at all times. Able to run the floor efficiently, the WKU alum can shoot the jumper or connect the dots for his teammates off the dribble as he speeds up the tempo of the game.
McDonald worked dilligently this offseason in an attempt to prove his worth to NBADL scouts, working out for teams like the Erie BayHawks and Iowa Energy. Despite not being selected in this year's draft, the guard is still looking for a way to ultimately break into the D-League anyway.
"I'm going to keep working hard," the guard told RidiculousUpside.com. "I still want to play in the D-League and make my way into the NBA. I'm not going to quit."
On the heels of many NBA hopefuls fighting for a coveted spot in The Association during training camp, McDonald appears to set to embrace a similar opportunity of his own. A D-League squad is reportedly getting set to welcome the guard to town as a practice player, where he'll be just as front and center as many of the team's players with concrete roster spots.
It's safe to say that all NBADL players aspire and aim for something on a higher level. The D-League is a stepping stone for those who wish to use it as a bridge to the NBA. For McDonald, the chance to compete in practice, and potentially prove he too deserves a spot, is simply an extra step in the process. The ever attainable goal is still the same.
"I just want to get in the door," the guard said. "Once you get in the door, the sky's the limit. I really believe that. I'm on the outside looking in, but even that's not that bad. I've been put through adversity before, and I look forward to overcoming it again."
"Whatever a coach needs me to do," McDonald continued, "I believe I can do that. I have to work hard at being the best defender I can be, but at the same time, still be able to come down on the offensive end and kick the ball out to those main scorers. That's what the NBA is looking for. I'm going to have to hold my own and work my way up."
The WKU alum talked about making things difficult for his opponent, which is an attitude and mentality certain to pour the pressure on as he pushes other players to their limits. The hunger is there, which could make him a lethal weapon for a D-League team during competition, let alone during practice.
McDonald kept active all offseason, working out with strength and conditioning coaches at Western Kentucky. What's more, he made sure not to put the ball down even during trips home. He was constantly in the gym, even getting his mother and father to rebound for him if it meant staying fresh throughout. Both his parents have been major supporters of his journey, and the guard also cites his faith as a key factor in what has given him the strength to keep going, full speed ahead.
Bringing in a player of McDonald's caliber and determination is guaranteed to force players to up their games during scrimmages. As the guard looked to continue making strides himself, he also worked out with a certain Big Apple NBA rookie this summer.
"I've worked out with Scott [Machado]," the WKU alum asserted. "That's my guy right there. We're pretty good friends. Working out with guys like that, you have no choice but to get better. He's an NBA caliber player, so playing with the best makes you want to always play at your best."
As one of the finalists during a recent BayHawks' open tryout, it's clear McDonald has the skill set necessary to compete at a more serious level. He can pass. He can shoot. But perhaps more impressively, the guard does all of this while somehow keeping his composure on the hardwood. He has no problem speeding things up or slowing them down, when the situation calls for it on offense.
And McDonald does all of these things in the best interests of his teammates, with his main goal to get them involved anyway he can.
Like many D-Leaguers, the WKU is fully ready and able for fight for a spot as he aims to prove he's worth a second look. If doing all he can to ensure the shot is eventually granted means hitting the practice floor, then so be it. In the end, McDonald's basketball journey just may turn out to be a little bit more storied.