Guard Yuki Togashi, who entered the bj-league as a promising backcourt leader at age 19 in February 2013, left Narita airport on Saturday to test his skills in the United States.
Togashi is headed to Dallas, according to published reports. He plans to work out for the Dallas Mavericks, hoping to land a spot with an NBA team for summer workouts and competitions.
He aims to become the second Japanese to play in the NBA, following in the footsteps of former Phoenix Suns guard Yuta Tabuse.
Togashi played his final high school season at Montrose Christian School, perennial national powerhouse program in Rockville, Maryland. Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant is a Montrose alum.
The 167-cm guard did not receive Division I scholarship offers in the United States. He returned to Japan and began his pro career with the Akita Northern Happinets in 2013.
Togashi was the All-Star Game MVP on Jan. 26 in Akita, finishing with 23 points and five assists for the victorious Eastern Conference. The 20-year-old led the bj-league with 7.9 assists and averaged 15.6 points per game during the 2013-14 season. He was named to the Best Five Team, becoming the youngest player in league history to earn the honor.
The Niigata Prefecture native helped lead the Happinets to a 40-12 record during the regular season. Akita advanced to the Final Four for the first time and faced the Ryukyu Golden Kings in the title game on May 25.
Togashi scored 30 points, including four 3-pointers, and dished out five assists in a 103-89 loss to the Golden Kings.
In recent weeks, basketball sources have said Togashi will also vie for an opportunity to compete for an NBA Development League team.
He was named to the Japan men’s national team’s provisional roster in May.
Various summer circuits are held throughout the United States each year, and dozens of unofficial workouts are held, with pro and college players working to hone their skills each offseason. Opportunities are abundant for Togashi against North American competition in the coming weeks, depending on where he goes and when he’s there. (Ryukyu’s Narito Namizato, for example, played in the Drew League in Los Angeles last summer.)
The official NBA Summer League takes place in two locales: Orlando (July 5-11) and Las Vegas (July 11-21).