Landry Earns NBA Roster Spot; Matthews Likely To Do The Same
According to the New York Daily News undrafted rookie Marcus Landry (Wisconsin) has earned a roster spot with the New York Knicks. In addition, Wesley Matthews (Marquette) is inching closer to doing the same with the Utah Jazz.
The Knicks set their regular season roster four days before it was due to the NBA and the 6'7" Landry, a Milwaukee native (Vincent) who led the Badgers in scoring (12.7) and blocked shots, has made a New York Knicks team desperate for tough, versatile defenders.
In September, Landry literally paid his own way to the Madison Square Garden Training Center to get into workouts with the players and earn an invite to training camp. He was rewarded by being signed as a free agent on September 24th. Before joining the Knicks, Landry averaged 9.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 21.8 minutes in five games for the Sacramento Kings in the 2009 NBA Summer League.
The versatile 6'5" Matthews, a Madison native (Memorial) was also undrafted, and while the Jazz opted to select Michigan State center Goran Suton with their No. 50 pick in the second round, they were on the phone with Matthews to express their interest before the draft was even over. Suton was waived by the team on October 21st.
Matthews joined the Jazz for summer league play and averaged 6.2 points while shooting 34.8 percent from the floor. While his summer league numbers may have been pedestrian, his relentless practice habits impressed Head Coach Jerry Sloan.
On a related note, the L.A. Clippers waived former Marquette standout guard Jerel McNeal on October 19th. In two preseason games played with the Clippers, McNeal averaged 3.5 points in 4.5 minutes per game.
The situation looks pretty good for Matthews. One day after cutting three players, the Jazz waived two more trimming their roster to 14. In addition, two of the current roster spots are filled with players who are injured (SG, C.J. Miles; FW, Matt Harpring).
There is the potential that Head Coach Jerry Sloan could still acquire a veteran released from another team which could make Matthews vulnerable, but at least for now, Matthews chances of making the final regular season roster seem pretty good.
Landry should stick with the Knicks for the season, but regular playing time will be tough to come by. He will be low on the depth chart, but could see some time as the Knicks struggle to find an identity. If Landry expects to see the floor, he'll have to prove his defensive value day in and day out in practice.
Both Landry and Matthews made headlines by remaining in state to play college basketball, but leaving their home cities to do so. Landry left Milwaukee to play for Bo Ryan in Madison, and Matthews left Madison to play for Tom Crean (and eventually Buzz Williams) at Marquette.
Neither passionately loyal fan base can look back at the decisions these two players made and say they made the wrong one. Both players ended up playing in systems where their talents could be maximized, and both played for outstanding coaches. Moreover, both programs have proven the ability to develop players and prepare them for the highest level of competition because at the core of each program is a rock solid foundation: family, work ethic, and a higher power.
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