Former Tar Heels take center stage in NBA Las Vegas summer tourney

No fewer than five UNC alumni were on the court Sunday when the Los Angeles Clippers took on the Utah Jazz. NC States Dennis Smith Jr. and Wake Forests John Collins also stood out photo— photo
Brice Johnson scored 14 points for the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday in an NBA Summer League game that featured five former UNC stars

It’s a summer tradition for former North Carolina basketball players, particularly those still involved in the professional ranks, to return to the Smith Center to play a series of pickup games with and against one another. Sunday night, it was as if they decided to hold the annual on-court reunion in Las Vegas instead of Chapel Hill. No fewer than five ex-Tar Heels were in uniform when the Los Angeles Clippers took on the Utah Jazz in the NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League tournament. The Clippers beat the Jazz 3-2 when it came to Carolina blue. They also won the game 86-67 as Brice Johnson, Isaiah Hicks and Kendall Marshall got the best of newly minted national champion Tony Bradley and J.P. Tokoto. Johnson had 14 points and six rebounds for LA while undrafted free agent rookie Hicks had the most promising performance by making all four of his field goal attempts, scoring 10 points and blocking three shots in 14 minutes of action. And while Marshall didn’t score in 13 minutes, he did hand out five assists. Recent first round pick Tony Bradley led Utah in both scoring and rebounding with 16 points and nine boards while Tokoto started and finished with five points. It was a busy day for UNC alumni in Vegas, with two others in a action Sunday. Marcus Paige posted his second straight strong game for the Minnesota Timberwolves — who are short on point guards — by hitting for 12 points and six assists in a win against Denver. Justin Jackson, meanwhile, failed to follow up on Friday’s eye-popping debut for the Sacramento Kings by missing all eight of his 3-point attempts while scoring only four points in a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. The best performances of the day among players with state college ties were turned in by NC State’s Dennis Smith Jr., Duke’s Quinn Cook and Wake Forest’s John Collins. Smith, playing his second game for the Dallas Mavericks’ summer squad drew raves again by scoring 26 points — on 8 of 14 shooting — while also recording eight rebounds, four assists and four steals to lead his team to an 88-71 win against the Phoenix Suns. Collins, the Atlanta Hawks’ first round draft choice, flexed his muscle by making nine of his 11 field goal attempts in a double-double that included 22 points and 10 rebounds in an 84-82 win against New Orleans. Cook stood out for the Pelicans by going 12 of 18 from the floor and scoring 25 points with five rebounds, five assists and two steals. Also Sunday, Duke’s Jayson Tatum saw his summer double-double streak end at three while scoring 11 points and pulling down seven rebounds for Boston in the Celtics’ 70-64 win against Portland. And NC State’s C.J. Williams had nine points, Duke’s Amile Jefferson six and Davidson’s Jack Gibbs four for Minnesota in its win against Denver. Although his numbers don’t jump off the stat sheet like some of the other players with state ties, the most eventful performance of the day was turned in by former Duke stretch four Ryan Kelly. Traded by the Hawks to Houston in a salary cap move on June 28, Kelly was picked back up by Atlanta when he was released by the Rockets early Sunday afternoon. He was in uniform and on the bench for the Hawks’ game against the New Orleans Pelicans. But because he didn’t officially clear waivers until 5 p.m. EDT, he wasn’t eligible to play until the start of the second half. Kelly hit his first 3-pointer shortly after clearing waivers and finished with eight points. Because the Rockets waited too long to rid themselves of Kelly’s contract, he won’t be able to re-sign with Atlanta for the regular season. His participation in the remainder of the Las Vegas Summer League is the Hawks’ way of helping him hook on with another team. Here are the cumulative stats for all state players participating in Las Vegas:Brandon Ingram, Duke (Lakers): 1 game, 26.0 ppg, 9-17 FG, 1-4 3PT, 7-8 FT, 3.0 apg, 3.0 spgQuinn Cook, Duke (Pelicans): 2 G, 20.5.0 ppg, 19-31 FG, 3-7 3PT, 3.5 rpg, 4.0 apg, 2.5 spgDennis Smith, NC State (Mavs) 2 G, 19.5 ppg, 13-26 FG, 4-11 3PT, 9-12 FT, 7.5 rpg, 5.0 apgJayson Tatum, Duke (Celtics): 2 G, 19.0 ppg, 13-30 FG, 1-1 3PT, 11-11 FT, 9.0 rpgBrice Johnson, UNC (Clippers): 2 G, 18.5 ppg, 15-24 FG, 7-7 FT, 6.5 rpg, 2.5 bpg, 2.0 spgJohn Collins, Wake Forest (Hawks): 2 G, 15.0 ppg, 11-15 FG, 8-12 FT, 10.5 rpg, 1.5 spgMarcus Paige, UNC (T-wolves): 2 G, 15.0 ppg, 10-23 FG, 5-12 3PT, 5-5 FT, 3,0 apgKennedy Meeks, UNC (Raptors): 2 G, 13.5 ppg, 12-20 FG, 1-3 3PT, 2-4 FT, 6.5 rpgTony Bradley, UNC (Jazz): 2 G, 13.0 ppg, 13-24 FG