Austin Toros center Eric Boateng is not exactly what you would call a household name in the professional Basketball ranks as of yet.
After going undrafted in the 2010 NBA Draft by playing somewhat mediocre ball for the Arizona State Sun Devils in comparison to his buzz coming into college, Boateng is looking to alter that perception by having a successful season in the D-League this year after his showing in EuroBasket 2011 for his native Great Britain.
Unlike many D-Leaguers who may not have the opportunity to compete against marquee talent in a hyper-competitive environment during the off-season or summer months, Boateng found himself mired in the always-tense hardwood landscape that is EuroBasket this summer.
The lanky, finesse center may have only provided limited support for his fellow English teammates in the ever-popular International Tourney, yet his insertion into the fray for Great Britain this summer may have provided the 6-foot 11-inch, 255-pound center a huge advantage coming into the 2011-12 D-League season.
Throughout August and into mid-September Boateng had the unique opportunity to not only battle a plethora of talented and skilled big men from Spain to Lithuania, but he also had the chance to compete on a nightly basis at a high level in games that actually meant something.
Which was huge for the backup center that may now be pushed into the Toros’ starting lineup sans Marcus Cousin.
If you recall Cousin moved on to the, well at that time, greener pastures of the NBA and the Houston Rockets.
With Cousin having signed a contract with the Rockets chances are he won’t be back with the Toros this upcoming season, which leaves him unfortunately locked-out and leaves Boateng with a big whopping opportunity to finally make a name for himself on the professional Basketball scene.
Making a name is something the highly-touted big man has not done since coming into the collegiate ranks.
In fact one could argue that Boateng, who originally suited up for the Duke Blue Devils in 2005-06, has been a total dud after having averaged a mere 4.9 points and 4.03 rebounds in 97 career collegiate games.
Not earth-shattering numbers by any stretch.
However, Boateng’s future could change drastically with one quality season with the Spurs’ D-League affiliate Austin Toros this year.
He has what most NBA hopefuls would do anything for – opportunity.
By default Boateng is tops on the Toros’ depth chart at the center or 5-spot with Cousin now in Houston.
Last season the London-born big man tallied just 4.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and close to a block a game in 17.1 minutes of action per night for Austin in 22 games.
Those numbers look eerily similar to his career collegiate totals; however we’ll give Boateng the benefit of the doubt as he was a backup and relatively new to the team.
If you’re looking for good news; Boateng’s best game of last season arguably came as a starter where he finished up scoring 14 points while grabbing seven rebounds in a 114-99 victory over local rivals the Texas Legends. In that affair Boateng played almost 30 minutes and also blocked two shots and had a steal for good measure.
It will be interesting to see what Austin’s new starting center will do with his opportunities this upcoming season. With the NBA on its way to being a distant memory this year the only pro-ball to watch stateside may reside in the D-League: meaning more than a few curious eyes will be on Boateng.
Solid big men are hard to find and you know Spurs’ head coaching guru Gregg Popovich knows a thing or two about that.
With the prospect of no NBA ball this season a call-up, unfortunately, just might not be in the plans, but placing that all-important visual seed in the heads of the powers that be may, ultimately, be more important for Boateng’s future in the end.
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© 2011 Jarrod Gillis — All Rights Reserved