Ra’shad James’ athleticism has never questioned.
He is athletically freakish, possessor of an amazing 43-inch vertical leap. The man can fly like few others.
But despite his exceptional physical skills, James has yet to play in the NBA. The 26-year-old James, who attended Iona College, has been a basketball drifter, having had stints in the D-League and overseas in Poland and South Korea.
James is also the definition of “late bloomer’’, someone whose game has steadily improved over the years to the point where he is now a legitimate NBA prospect. Several teams have recently inquired about the possibility of him coming to their training camps, although all indicators point toward him agreeing to a non-guaranteed deal with the Milwaukee Bucks.
“We’ve had interest in the Bucks and they have had interest in Ra’shad,’’ said Bill Neff, James’ agent. “Nothing is finalized; there’s still some paperwork to do. But both sides want to do it.’’
James, a 6-1 guard, finished last season playing for the Westchester Knicks, the New York Knicks’ D-League affiliate, and raised some eyebrows. He showed he can be an impact scorer by averaging 16.5 points in 15 games.
What’s more, James demonstrated a quality inside-outside game. He shot a terrific 39 percent on treys and finished better than any D-League player from within five feet of the basket.
James was equally impressive in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. Playing for the Bucks, James caught the attention of several NBA officials with his offensive explosiveness. In five summer league games, James averaged 14.2 points – in just 20 minutes a game — while shooting 50 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3-point range. He had 19 points in the final game against Houston.
The Bucks have 13 players under contract for next season and are expected to sign free-agent Steve Novak soon, leaving one roster spot available.