Wednesday, August 13, 2008

James Gist Signs in Italy

It seemed unlikely that James Gist (2004-08), who was picked in the 2nd round of the NBA draft by the San Antonio Spurs, would be able to secure a roster spot, so Gist has signed a contract (translation) to play in Italy for Angelico Biella of the top Italian pro league (Lega A). Here's a translation of the press release from the team:
Angelico Biella Basketball announces that it has signed an agreement with James Gist.

According to team official Luke Bechi: "We are very pleased to be able to have Gist in our next team. This is James' first overseas experience, but he comes from a prestigious college at Maryland. The player is an incredible athlete and defensive stopper of the first degree, and the former Terrapin also has a good mid-range shot. Moreover, he has the great ability to play above the rim and a natural propensity to rush to counterattack and rebound. The player, along with other companions in the frontcourt, will give our team a big presence under the boards."

Standing 2.06m, James Gist was born in Silver Spring, Maryland, October 26, 1986. After attending Good Counsel High School in his hometown, he was recruited by the University of Maryland and trained with Gary Williams, one of college basketball gurus. For the Terrapins, he earned playing time as a freshman, increasing his minutes season by season to join the starting five of the Terps as a Junior. His Senior year was the year he reached the peak of his collegiate career with almost 16 points and 8 rebounds, with more than 2 blocked shots per game, and was voted to the All-ACC Defensive First Team (against players from ACC schools like North Carolina and Duke among others).

After the experience in college, Gist attended a workout with the Portland Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings, but was chosen by the San Antonio Spurs with the 27th pick in the second round. After the Summer League in Las Vegas, where he played well with the Spurs, getting 11 points and 8 rebounds per game in 22 minutes spent on the court, James Gist now takes the path to Europe, choosing Biella as the starting point of his professional career.

Spurs fans are upset about losing Gist to Europe, but it was unlikely that the Spurs could make room on their already stacked roster for their draft pick. Gist most likely would have ended up playing for the Spurs NBA D-League affiliate, the Austin Toros. Despite signing for one year in Italy, the Spurs will still retain Gist's NBA rights for two years.

Gist will join former Terps Nik Caner-Medley (Upea Capo d'Orlando) and Andre Collins (Carife Ferrara) playing in the Italian Lega A next season.

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