The grind of the NBA G League season is about to get underway, and there's a lot of excitement in the Fort Wayne Mad Ants training camp. Unfortunately, there has been a couple cuts already made, including both J.D. Tisdale Jr. and Jamaal Samuel. For the most part, the Mad Ants will be returning a lot of familiar faces to Fort Wayne. Alex Poythress, Jarrod Uthoff, Stephan Hicks, C.J. Fair, Walt Lemon Jr., Adam Woodbury, and Trey McKinney-Jones will all be returning to the team this season.
So much of the focus has been centered on both Poythress and Uthoff since they spent time with NBA teams last season. Rightfully so, but I've been focusing a lot more on the other returning players. In my previous article, I incorporated my quick chat with Hicks. From what I've seen he's looking to be a much improved player this year after spending his summer at the G League Elite Camp among others. Another player that is expected to be a big contributor this season will be McKinney-Jones.
Early in the NBA pre-season, McKinney-Jones sustained a shoulder injury while playing for the Indiana Pacers. Much like Hicks, he's had quite the busy summer as well after participating in both the Orlando and Las Vegas Summer Leagues. He's been rehabbing throughout training camp in Fort Wayne, and I must say he looks to be progressing very well. In a very physically demanding drill, he seemed to move fluently and without a grimace.
Last season, McKinney-Jones was one of the most efficient players offensively for Fort Wayne shooting an impressive 47% from the field, while averaging 16.6 points per game as well. Keeping in mind, he is recovering from an injury, he has seemed to improve his jump shot even more and likely aspires to increase his three-point percentage this season. Since, he's highly considered as one of the "veterans" on the team, he'll likely reclaim his role as the leader of the team.
Media Day was held Monday morning at the OPS Training Facility in Fort Wayne, and I was able to ask Mad Ants coach Gansey what it's like having guys like McKinney-Jones and Hicks back with the team this season.
As coach Gansey said, it'll be about a month until McKinney-Jones is expected to be back. From what I've seen that should be plenty of time for him to get back to 100% healthy. But, when he does make the official return to the court, he'll add an enhanced game that'll make this team tough to beat. As a team, they appear very prepared for their upcoming game this Saturday against the Long Island Nets.