Fresh off a breakout professional season for the Sioux Falls Skyforce, Kadeem Jack picked right up where he left off and competed at the 2018 NBA G League Elite Mini-Camp this past week.
At 25 years old, he’s stands tall as the type of prospect the minor league should want to embrace. Things didn’t happen for him right away. In his first two G League seasons, he bounced around between three teams and struggled to find consistent minutes. Considered a small forward in college, Jack’s 6’8” and 235 pound frame qualifies him to play more of the four in the smaller G League. He’s widely considered a big man, which has forced him to adjust his game and shift his mentality on the court.
But alas, following his best season as a pro, it’s clear he’s been able to do that. Jack is now a more seasoned veteran who has clearly benefited from a mixture of patience, exposure, and opportunity. He hit the hardwood at this week’s camp after averaging a near 12 points on 61% shooting from the field and 7.2 rebounds. He started 28 games out of 45 appearances and found a consistent role in Nevada Smith’s rotation with the Skyforce.
“It’s a great accomplishment. I’ve been through a lot. It’s been a slow grind. I’ve had to wait,” he told RidiculousUpside.com about his success and selection to the camp. “But I’ve always felt that whenever I were able to get a few minutes to show something, I could stretch that into a longer opportunity.”
As he competed in his third G League season, Jack had learned from past experiences and came to understand what the minor league needed to see from him to prove he could be a reliable contributor. “I was able to dive into a different role. I reinvented myself and embraced the pick and roll. I tried to focus on that, instead of catching and shooting the ball along the perimeter,” he explained. “On the professional level, it’s more about what the team needs rather than what you can do.”
Being able to adapt is a sign of maturity. Jack filled a certain role with Sioux Falls and his trust in the coaching staff (and their respective guidance) led to on-the-court success. Nevertheless, he’s a versatile player who can appreciate the need to keep his various skills sharp, regardless of the situation. Playing in the Elite Mini-Camp allowed him to show off a few different things.
“My position may vary and the things I bring to the table each and every night may be different. But my hard work never changes,” Jack pointed out. “At a camp like this, I can showcase all of my skills. It’s a point of practicing all that you can do and just being ready to showcase that whenever you need to.”
Jack has transformed himself from a seldom used forward into someone who is regarded amongst forty of the G League’s top prospects. He was front and center, on display for the NBA’s top decision-makers. So what did he hope to prove?
“I had a chance to play basketball the right way: being in the position to help guys on defense. I was making the right reads,” he said. “On offense, I’m looking for the open man and when the lane to the basket is there, I take it. I wanted to show that I’m capable of doing that.”
Whereas some guys left the elite mini-camp, ready to take a break and enjoy some of the offseason, Jack got right back to work. He hopped on a plane and returned to Sioux Falls, where he’ll continue working as he prepares for NBA Summer League and other forthcoming opportunities.
“I decided to stay out here in Sioux Falls. One of my coaches has a gym with an AAU program,” the forward shared. “I can stay out here and keep working at conditioning my body. This allows me to stay away from all the distractions and just lock in for what comes next.”
At the camp, big league executives and coaches were impressed by Jack’s unselfishness and strong play in the post. He certainly gave them a lot to consider. As the NBA Draft Combine gets underway, there will be youngsters who are being exposed to the pro game for the first time and may need time to go through an adjustment period. On the flip side, Jack has been exposed to different things and has already made more of a transition. This could very well prepare him that much more to make contributions at the next level, either as an agile three or a physical four.