In an Orlando Summer League loaded with big men of various ranges and talents, no player has more to prove over the next few games than former University of Connecticut forward Jeff Adrien. Competing against countless other former college standouts for the attention of any coach and general manager making their way to Orlando’s RDV Sportsplex, Adrien has potentially been presented with his last opportunity to show the League he’s worthy. Even after a successful season overseas, the knocks against Adrien throughout his career in Storrs, Conn., will once again become talking points as Adrien hits the hardwood in Orlando.
As a player fighting for a roster spot, Adrien’s debut against Indiana was undoubtedly a step in the right direction. His 13-point, 10-rebound performance for Orlando, the only double-double in the game, was highlighted by 15 trips to the line and an exhibition of pure strength on the blocks. The 24-year-old, who averaged 12.3 points and 7.7 rebounds in his lone season with Leche Rio Breogan of the Spanish League, has always played much bigger than his 6-7 size would indicate. As a senior captain in 2008-2009, Adrien finished his career as one of the most prolific big men in UConn history by becoming the second player ever (Emeka Okafor was the first) to finish with 1,600 points and 1,100 rebounds.
The biggest challenge for Adrien may be proving his worth over players on his own summer team roster. He doesn’t have the range of Paul Davis, the athleticism of Stanley Robinson or the size of Daniel Orton, and his lack of shooting ability and 6-7 frame have constantly managed to keep him out of the picture as a player on the NBA fringe. But even so, it may have been Adrien who turned the most heads (okay, other than Lance Stephenson) with his strong performance on the first day of Orlando Summer League action.
Over the next four days or so, Adrien has a lot to prove. Even after leading his Vegas Summer League team in rebounding last summer, Adrien was forced to ship overseas to Spain. If his past is any indication, however, Adrien will be fighting until the very last whistle to prove himself worthy of an NBA contract.
What do you think? Should Adrien get a shot?
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