Just when the Liaoning Jiebao Hunters in the Chinese Basketball League were getting ready to complete their roster for the upcoming 2012-13 season, undoubtedly eager to move on from finishing 15-17 last year, two of their American-import players now have their eyes set on the NBA.
First, Rodney Carney -- yes, that Rodney Carney -- worked out on Tuesday with the Milwaukee Bucks along with Marquis Daniels, Alando Tucker and Rasual Butler. But while the former Minnesota Timberwolves, Philadelphia 76ers, Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies forward has had his time in the league, Josh Akognon will be gunning for his chance in Dallas.
On the same day the Liaoning Jiebao Hunters announced the signing of Akognon, the 5-foot-11 guard out of Cal State Fullerton, overseas writer David Pick reported Akognon opted to stop the contract with the team in China and instead accept an invitation to training camp with the Dallas Mavericks.
Akognong apparently had an opt-out clause in his contract. He wasted no time in enforcing it.
Akognon, who graduated from Cal State Fullerton in 2009 after beginning his collegiate career at Washington State, averaged 23.9 point per game as a senior. All that translated to was going undrafted and forcing him to make the move overseas where Akognon signed in 2009-10 with BC Kalev/Cramo Tallinn in Estonia.
But it wasn't until he signed in China the following season that Akognon really made his mark internationally.
During his first season in China in 2010-11, Akognon finished a 39-game schedule with the DongGuan Leopards of the CBA and averaged 29.2 points a game, shot 55.6 from the field and even boasted four games where he scored over 40 points, including one 54 points.
Not bad at all.
This past season in the CBA, his second with DongGuan, Akognon played a consistent brand of basketball: 28.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3 assists and 1.6 steals per game (37 games). What followed was a brief stint in the D-League with the Canton Charge. In three games, Akognon averaged 16 points, 1.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game, while shooting 48% from the field and 54% from 3-point in 24 minutes per game for the Charge.
So what's next for Akognon?
It all comes down to Dallas where it is going to be tough to break their 15-man roster. Very tough. If that happens (or doesn't happen as the case would be), returning to the D-League is an option but it's believed that heading back to China is the most realistic move Akognon will make.
He spent the Las Vegas Summer League with the Sacramento Kings and played in three games: 19.3 points, 3 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game (53% FG) in 18.3 minutes per game. The scoring average was good enough to rank him 11th in points per game while in Vegas. For Akognon though, it just showed how far he has come compared to last summer when be balanced NBA workouts with overseas offers including China.
Both the Los Angeles Lakers and the New Orleans Hornets worked out Akognon in June 2011, after he'd turned down offers with Minnesota and Oklahoma City, two teams loaded with point guards.
But when the lockout hit, Akognon hit the road to China and held it down.
Depending what happens at training camp in Dallas, Josh Akognon may have to hit that road to China again.