Todd Withers - Fortitudo Lavorpia-Bologna
After leaving the comforts of Division II basketball when he graduated from Queens University in 2018, Withers has been able to establish himself as a reliable 3-and-D threat within the 2nd unit of the Grand Rapids Drive. Evidence of that was shown during the 2019-20 season where he averaged 10.7 points, 5 rebounds, 1.1 assists, .9 steals, and .8 blocks on 43% from the field and 36% from 3 on 6.3 attempts in only 25 minutes per game. For a player that tried out for the team only a year prior, that mix of scoring volume and efficiency was nothing but impressive.
In a normal year, Withers would’ve probably stayed in the G League for another year to see if he can vault himself to possibly getting a 10-day or two-way deal. However, COVID-19 bringing uncertainty to the table mixed with being a young man that needs to have some sort of income, he ventured off to Italy to play with Fortituto Bologna of the Italian Basket Serie A league.
Although the Serie A season is still young, the young man from Greensboro is playing at a level that he hasn’t been at since his time in Division II. During the team’s first seven games of the season, the 6’7 wing is averaging 15.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.3 assists on 50% from the field and 45% from beyond the arc on 5.4 attempts per game. Although that production hasn’t prevented Fortituto from starting the year at 1-6, you have to imagine that Withers’ production so far during the season could push other international teams to offer a more lucrative deal to the young wing.
Isaiah Pineiro - BC VEF Riga
Sticking with intriguing wings, we go to a player that Stockton Kings fans had a chance to familiarize themselves with during the 2019-20 campaign. In 41 games, he put up 9.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.2 steals on 44% from the field and 33% from beyond the arc in 21 minutes per game. That well-rounded approach allowed the rookie to be an extremely important role player for a team that finished the pandemic-shortened season with a 24-19 record.
In a similar vein to Withers, the situation that has come from 2020 pushed the Puerto Rican born prospect to head to Latvia to play with VEF Riga of the Latvian-Estonian Basketball League (LEBL) and the Basketball Champions League. In the early goings of both leagues, the 2nd year pro has established himself as a solid role player for the team.
In nine games, Pineiro is averaging 10.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.2 steals on 49% from the field and 29% from beyond the arc on 1.9 attempts in only 20 minutes per game. So far during the young season, that impact has pushed BC VEF Riga to have a 7-0 record in the LEBL and 1-1 in Champions League play. Based on his production during the first few weeks of the season, don’t be surprised to see more updates about Pineiro as we move through the winter.
Kevin Hervey - Lokomotiv Kuban
Unlike the two players that we’ve talked about over the course of this piece, Hervey is a prospect that was actually part of an NBA team during the 2019-20 season. After a fantastic start to the season with the OKC Blue, averaging 20 points, 12 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game with a 60% True Shooting Percentage, the Thunder offered the 6’9 forward a two-way deal on December 12th.
However, struggles with injuries and time up in the NBA with the Thunder cut down on the time that he spent with the Blue for the remainder of the season. In the only 27 games he spent with the team, Hervey’s production dissipated as he averaged 12 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.3 steals on 38% from the field and 27% from 3 on 6.8 attempts per game. Those issues with efficiency pushed his True Shooting Percentage down to 48%.
After his season with OKC, which included two games in the NBA bubble, the University of Texas-Arlington alum was signed by Lokomotiv Kuban of the VTB United League and EuroCup to replace Johnny O’Bryant. So far, that decision seems to have worked wonderfully for both sides as the 6’9 forward is currently averaging 16.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.7 steals, and 1 block on 48% from the field and 45% from beyond the arc on 7.6 attempts in 28 minutes per game. That great play included a recent outing against UNICS Kazan where he put up 22 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 steals on 8-15 from the field while matched up against standout G League alums like Jordan Morgan and Okaro White.