Earlier this month, the New York Knicks selected Princeton basketball alum TJ Bray ’14 for the Las Vegas NBA Summer League.
The NBA Summer League offers an opportunity for newly signed rookies, undrafted prospects and a few international players to demonstrate their skills in front of NBA front offices and coaches. A few undrafted and previously unnoticed players, including Harvard graduate Jeremy Lin, have gone on to secure regular season roster spots.
The Las Vegas Summer League, one of the three leagues, extends fromJuly 10–20and features 24 teams who compete in a tournament-style schedule.
As a Princeton Tiger, TJ Bray led the Tigers with his court vision, ranking third on the all-time assists list. In recognition of his talents, Bray earned a unanimous All-Ivy first-team selection his senior year.
Princeton basketball head coach Mitchell Henderson ’98 pointed out that Bray's ability to grow is what set him apart as a Princeton athlete.
“He is constantly improving," Henderson said. "He got so much better here in four years and he’s willing to adjust to what’s needed to be successful, which is what makes him special.”
This summer’s preseason play will actually be Bray’s second trip to the Las Vegas League. Upon graduating, Bray played on the Toronto Raptors' Summer League roster, averaging 4.4 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists in five games. Then, this past year, Bray played oversees for Pallacanestro Trapani, a team in Italy’s second-level professional basketball league.
Despite not making the Raptors' final roster, Bray pointed out that last summer's experience was invaluable for his development as a player.
"Being able to play with the Raptors last summer was a phenomenal experience," Bray said. "I was able to learn a lot about not only what it takes to play in the NBA physically but also how to mentally prepare at the next level as well."
Looking forward, Henderson is optimistic about Bray’s continued success on the Knicks' Summer League roster.
“I think the fit with the Knicks and TJ is a really good one as they value what he does so well." Henderson noted. "TJ makes everyone around him better. He makes very difficult passes look routine and he’ll really highlight the strengths of those around him in the summer league.”
Should Bray play professionally in the NBA, he would become just the 10th player in Princeton history to compete at the world’s highest level. Moreover, Bray would be the first Tiger to play an NBA game in 13 years, ever since Steve Goodrich ’98 played for the New Jersey Nets in the 2001-02 season.
In addition to Bray, fellow Tiger Ian Hummer ’13 earned a roster spot for the Sacramento Kings but has since declined the position.
“It was best for my career to not attend this year,” Hummer said.
As a Tiger, Hummer accumulated three All-Ivy selections. Since graduating, Hummer, the second-highest scoring player in Princeton history, has played oversees in both Germany and Finland. Hummer noted that the possibility of Summer League play remains open for future years.
Princeton basketball ranks the second-highest among all Ivy League schools for players having made an NBA team. Bray, Hummer and recent women’s basketball phenomenon Blake Dietrick '15 who trained with the Washington Mystics earlier this year represent the latest surge in Tigers reaching for the NBA and WNBA.Bray and the Knicks face the Philadelphia 76ers on July 14th. The 24 teams will play at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas and for a minimum of five games, with additional match ups pending tournament performance.
Whatever the results of this summer's time with the Knicks may be, Bray will continue professional basketball career after this summer is over.
"I’m planning on playing as long as I still feel like I’m playing at a high level," Bray said. "It’s really a blessing to be able to play professionally and be able to decide on my own when I want to be done"