Despite not being among one of the 60 players selected in this year’s draft, Houston Rockets guard Chris Clemons recently made quite the splash at NBA Summer League.
Not too long ago, Chris Clemons was captivating college basketball crowds and national media members that flocked to witness his prolific scoring prowess across the Big South Conference. But instead of a draft-night call, Clemons could only garner a Summer League invitation from the Houston Rockets.
The 21-year-old guard — who only drew three NCAA Division I scholarships out of high school — led the nation in scoring with 30.1 points per game during his senior season, en route to becoming the ninth player in college basketball history to eclipse the 3,000-point plateau during his four-year career at Campbell University.
Yet in spite of becoming the first player in 22 years to average north of 30 points per game at the collegiate level, Clemons’ ability to light up the scoreboard would not be enough to help the 5’9″, 180-pound standout hear his named called on draft night.
“I’m just going to do continue to do what I do,” the mid-major product said per Rodd Baxley of The Fayetteville Observer immediately following the the 2019 NBA Draft. “Work hard and do whatever it takes to make it on that stage. I’m confident in myself. I think it will turn out great for me. I’m just going to do what I do.
“I’m always going to have that chip on my shoulder.”
Now, Clemons’ confidence in his skills are currently working tremendous wonders, as the former unheralded star who scored more career points than the likes of Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson and Elvin Hayes in college might not be out of an NBA job for too much longer.
Clemons — who recently agreed to an Exhibit 10 contract with the Rockets — managed to successfully exhibit his dynamic scoring acumen out at Summer League, averaging a team-high 20.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game on 39.5 percent shooting from the field in five outings for Clutch City.
In addition to a solid stroke within catch-and-shoot instances from beyond the arc, converting on 41.1 percent of his looks from 3-point land.
“It’s almost like playing where I was at in college,” Clemons said to Allie LaForce of Turner Sports when asked about his time playing at Summer League. “I think my game translates [to the next level]. I’ve been telling everybody that since I left college.”
Although it remains to be seen whether or not Clemons’ transition proves to be as seamless when he suits up in an official game that counts for all the marbles, Rockets fans must be intrigued by the sample size that they have seen thus far from the young man who sought to pattern his game after Allen Iverson.
In a showdown against former lottery pick Cameron Payne, Clemons constructed arguably the best performance of any player on the hardwood, pouring in a game-high 25 points on 7-for-13 shooting from downtown in his Summer League debut against the Dallas Mavericks on July 6.
On top of showing off his 44-inch vertical in the process, as Clemons followed up his opening entree with back-to-back 20 point outings on the way towards leading the summer Rockets to a 3-2 record out in Sin City.
“They messed up,” Clemons further added in his interview with LaForce in regards to the teams that sought to pass up on him in this year’s draft.
“The Rockets didn’t. I’m looking to make that team and we’re going to make big things happen.”
Should he continue to make upward strides as a playmaker and defender, then Clemons could possibly do just that.