Casper Ware joining Pistons for the summer
Casper Ware wasn’t in New Jersey for the NBA Draft like No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis. He wasn’t with friends and family watching from a pizza parlor like 21st overall pick Jared Sullinger.
In fact, Ware wasn’t watching the draft at all.
“I was working out at the gym,” Ware said. “After that I just went and chilled with my dad and uncle.”
Perhaps it’s a good thing Ware wasn’t watching, because his name was not one of the 60 called last Thursday evening. There was no draft party, no overwhelming media presence and certainly no confetti for the former Long Beach State point guard.
That doesn’t mean there wasn’t any reason to celebrate, however. Within hours of the draft’s conclusion, Ware got calls from the Brooklyn Nets, Houston Rockets and Detroit Pistons, all of which were interested in his services.
Ultimately, he decided the Pistons were the best fit.
“The situation in Detroit just feels better,” Ware said. “There I have the best chance at making the roster.”
Although Detroit is already the home of point guards Rodney Stuckey, Brandon Knight (who was the Piston’s 8th overall pick in the 2011 draft) and Will Bynum, Ware feels that he will have better playing time with the Pistons than with the Nets or Rockets.
His shooting ability also gives him a chance to fit in at shooting guard, where Detroit is especially thin. The only shooting guard currently on the roster is Missouri product Kim English, who was drafted by the Pistons 44th overall this year.
The Nets, on the other hand, have a more crowded guard situation. They currently have eight guards on the roster, including 2012 41st overall pick Tyshawn Taylor, who was acquired from the Portland Trail Blazers in a post-draft trade. The Nets have also reached an agreement with the Atlanta Hawks that will send guard Joe Johnson to Brooklyn, yet another reason for Ware to avoid the Big Apple.
The Rockets have seven guards on the roster, including shooting guard Jeremy Lamb, who was their top prize in the draft.
Ware has a chance to become the first Long Beach State alumnus to play in the NBA since Byron Russell, who finished his career in 2006. He just missed out on becoming the first 49er to be drafted since Andy Betts, who was taken 50th overall by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1998 draft.
Long Beach State has had twenty of its players go on to the NBA, the most notable of which was hall-of-famer George Gervin. Gervin split his college days between Long Beach State and Eastern Michigan before starting a 14-year career in the NBA and ABA.
History, however, is not on Ware’s side. Undrafted Long Beach State players have had a very difficult time getting to the NBA, as best shown by Juaquin Hawkins. Hawkins was an undrafted free agent in 1996, when he signed a contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. His stint didn’t last long, however, as he was cut before the season started.
Hawkins jumped around international and independent league teams for a while until 2002, when he was signed by the Rockets. The 29-year-old rookie started 10 games for the team in what was his only NBA season.
A more recent example is Aaron Nixon, a Long Beach State star who won the Big West Player of the Year award in 2006-2007. Nixon played for a few international teams before becoming an assistant basketball coach for Heidelberg University in Ohio.
Ware heads to Orlando on July 4, where he will play on Detroit’s summer league team. The season-long tryout will determine whether or not he lands a roster spot for the 2012-2013 season.