Aldridge: Keene impressive for the Wizards in Vegas

Zach Libby , Chippewa Country Contributor
Chippewa Country

Marcus Keene, despite his undrafted free agent status, once again turned heads as one of the few positives during the Washington Wizards' 2017 Las Vegas Summer League run.

The team finished 0-3 in league play before getting ousted in the first round of the Summer League Tournament and then losing their consolidation game to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Without a draft pick since 2015 and a lack of developed talent, going winless was certain, as not one player on Washington's Summer League roster was drafted by them.

The Wizards have had problems with keeping draft picks and finding success with selections that weren't in the top-10, but they were applauded by David Aldridge of for taking a chance on Keene.

The nation's leader scorer last year with Central Michigan was one of seven Las Vegas standouts, according Aldridge, averaging 11.3 points and 16.8 minutes off the bench per game. He also shot 50 percent overall (17-for-34) and 46.7 percent from three point range (7-for-15).

Keene told Aldridge his scoring abilities could have been the asset Washington was missing last season, while proving that there's more to him than collecting baskets.

"That’s what I was telling people that was talking to me after the game, like, ‘why aren’t you shooting?,'" Keene said last Wednesday. "I was like, I’m trying to get into the league. So I have to show them the other stuff I can do. I’m not just going to go out and jack shots. Everybody wants to see me score, but I have to show I’m a good, smart basketball player to get into the league. And then, when I get the shots, just knock them down when I get ‘em."

Fellow former CMU guard and Summer League teammate Rayshawn Simmons was nearly inexistent during the five game stretch, playing a total of 15 minutes while recording one steal and one assists.

Keene was the only non-draftee this year on the list. San Antonio's Bryn Forbes also made the list after finishing second in the Summer League in scoring with 26 points per game.

Keene, 22, had his coming out party during a three game stretch the Wizards endured in three days. After not appearing in Washington's opener, as well as playing 11 minutes and scoring just two points in the second game, the Texas native exploded last Tuesday.

Having a plus/minus ratio of +10, the 5-foot-9 guard had 13 points off eight shots against the Chicago Bulls. He followed that up with 18 points scored in 25 minutes on 8-of-16 shooting in the tournament game.

Keene's final game saw a third straight double-digit scoring effort, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that gave Washington a 12-point lead at halftime.

What the future holds for Keene with the Wizards is unknown, as they have no more "two way" contracts remaining after the Michael Young and Devin Robinson signings.

Starting this year under the new CBA, teams are able to hold two extra roster spots. The players who agree to this deal will spend a majority of the season in the G-League, formerly the NBA Developmental League, but can play up to 45 games on the parent team.

Keene can look for another suitor before training camp, make it onto a G-League affiliate some other way or ship out overseas. The latter option would be an increase in salary with tougher competition.

Simmons signed a contract this past January with Oril Prostejov of the Czech Republic National Basketball league. CMU's all-time 3-point shooter Braylon Rayson did not receive Summer League interest.

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