Every athlete has a dream to make it to the highest level in their sport. In basketball, where it's much harder for players to make to the next level, an athlete may see his career take him to places where he never thought he would be. In the case of Ra'Shad James, he has taken his talents to Wonju Dongbu Promy of the Korean Basketball League and AZS Koszalin of the Polish basketball league. After displaying his skills this past year in Westchester, Ra'Shad James has a chance to hook onto a team.
To say that Ra'Shad James' basketball career has come full circle would be an understatement. He played at St. Thomas Aquinas before transferring to Iona. After he went undrafted in 2013, James spent two seasons with the Reno Bighorns, which included a 2014-15 campaign where he averaged 20.7 points and 3.3 assists on 46% from the field. He was able to shoot the ball well, but Reno's face-paced offense could have played a role in that. Nonetheless, James' basketball dream and journey continued; this time he found himself in a new environment — South Korea and Poland.
His overseas career was short-lived. The White Plains, NY native played in 29 games overseas — 15 games in Korea and 14 games in Poland — before he found his way back into the D-League. This time it was a little different. James had more experience under his belt and he returned home to White Plains, NY.
Throughout the 2015-16 season, the Westchester Knicks were in need for shooters to boost their roster while making a push towards the playoffs. When James was signed on February 25th, the Knicks had the worst 3P% in the D-League, as they were shooting 32% from beyond the arc. The 6'1″ guard was able to provide a scoring punch off the bench, which was beneficial towards the Knicks' playoff push. In the 13 games that James came off the bench during the regular season, he shot 39% from downtown.
Along with his ability to knock down a shot from beyond the arc, the former Iona product's athleticism has become legendary in the D-League. A two-time participant in the D-League Dunk Contest, James has a reel of earth-shattering dunks that matches anything you'd see in a streetball tournament.
Even though Ra'Shad James' season finished when the Westchester Knicks were eliminated from the playoffs at the hands of the Sioux Falls Skyforce, he wasn't ready for the offseason. James, alongside teammates Jordan Bachynski and Darion Atkins, prepared themselves for the D-League Elite Mini Camp. In day two, the former Westchester guard had an impressive performance, which included a powerful dunk he threw down in transition. His performance caught the eye of Santa Cruz Warriors head coach Casey Hill, as reported by Ridiculous Upside.
"Rashad James had a really nice game [in day two]. He got up and caught this nice alley-oop in transition, and once he did that, you saw him get that little extra pep in his step. He went on this one man run, which was impressive. I coached against him often when he was in Reno, so I have a lot of respect for him."
Along with his profound performance at the D-League Elite Mini-Camp, the 6'1″ guard recorded the highest vertical (41.5″).
Having an impressive performance was crucial for Ra'Shad James. NBA coaches and executives were in attendance and had the chance to see what James could bring to the table. He is capable of adapting to different systems — a fast-paced offense or the Triangle — and he felt like making the right reads is the most relevant thing.
The biggest opportunity is near for the White Plains, NY native. He was able to carry his productivity and aggressiveness from the D-League season to the Elite Mini-Camp. He has shown he can be an effective shooter with an intense level of athleticism. James is a high energy player that could provide a team with numerous things, if given the chance. An opportunity during the Summer League could give Ra'Shad James the chance to show that he can be a solid NBA quality player.