Yuki Togashi’s big ambitions have captivated a city filled with endless attractions.
The 167-cm point guard, who’s on a quest to latch on with an NBA team for the upcoming season, is the talk of the town in Las Vegas.
A short sample of website headlines hammers home the point:
■ 5’7″ Japanese PG Yuki Togashi Is Taking over the NBA Summer League
— Bleacher Report
■ Ladies And Gentlemen, Your New Earl Boykins/Muggsy Bogues Mini NBA Player: Yuki Togashi
Boosting his rising status was a breakthrough performance on Wednesday in the Dallas Mavericks’ NBA Summer League Game against the Charlotte Hornets.
Togashi, the shortest player in the Summer League, poured in 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting in nearly 11 electrifying minutes of court time for the Mavericks. His game highlights are rapidly making the rounds on social media-embedded videos and becoming a YouTube hit on both sides of the Pacific.
Exhibit A: An NBA posted video entitled “Yuki ‘Toga’ Togashi: The Vegas Fan Favorite,” highlighting his play versus the Hornets, had been watched more than 149,000 times by 2 p.m. on Friday.
Cue the highlights: Togashi drains a baseline jumper. He buries a 3-pointer from the right wing. He dribbles into the lane and dishes off to a teammate. He sinks another jumper, this one from mid-range. He dribbles past a pair of defenders and releases a nifty floater that sails through the bottom of the net to beat the shot clock.
After two seasons in an Akita Northern Happinets uniform, the 20-year-old Togashi is aiming to take his game to the next level and join former Phoenix Suns guard Yuta Tabuse (four games in 2004) as the only Japanese to play in the NBA.
He is the quintessential underdog. In a big man’s game, the diminutive backcourt player resonates with the masses.
“I look like I’m 15 years old, so maybe that’s a reason why the fans love me,” Togashi said with a grin in a video posted on Mavs.com.
After leading the bj-league in minutes played (1,895) last season, Togashi’s adjusting to being a backup with the Mavs.
“Sometimes it’s kind of too much but I’ve got to get used to it,” he said in the video interview. “It’s tough to stay on the bench for a long time and then just get on the court. It’s hard but it just creates experience for me.”
Observing how Togashi has attracted attention at the Thomas & Mack Center, Philadelphia Daily News basketball scribe Bob Cooney wrote, “One of (Mavericks owner Mark) Cuban’s players, 5-7 guard Yuki Togashi, from Japan, got yesterday’s biggest ovation.”
The Niigata Prefecture native and the Mavericks (2-2) were scheduled to wrap up their Vegas Summer League slate on Friday against the Phoenix Suns (2-2).
Togashi, meanwhile, has raised his profile while coming off the bench in three of Dallas’ games in Las Vegas since the summer circuit began July 11.
Former NBA center Walter Palmer tweeted, “Japanese PG Yuki Togashi is currently the talk of NBA Summer League.”
Other tweets included:
“@YukiTogashi I saw your highlights. Can’t wait til you blow up,” wrote someone using the @Evan_Paul16 handle.
“YukiTogashi does what @TEN000HOURS teaches really well . . . picks his spots, good shooter, and a nice floater,” @QMurdock tweeted.
So what’s next for Togashi?
Some basketball pundits have already predicted Togashi will wind up playing for the Texas Legends, the Mavs’ NBA Development League squad, this coming season.
Togashi attended prep basketball powerhouse Montrose Christian School in Rockville, Maryland, for his final year of high school. His Montrose coach, Stu Vetter, also mentored NBA superstar Kevin Durant.
Lakers pick up Boozer
New York —Carlos Boozer is headed to the Lakers’ crowded frontcourt after Los Angeles made the winning bid for the veteran forward waived by the Chicago Bulls via the amnesty clause.
The Lakers made the highest bid under the NBA’s modified waiver process for players who were amnestied, the team announced Thursday.
Boozer, a two-time All-Star, averaged 15.5 points and nine rebounds in 280 games with the Bulls, but his playing time diminished in recent seasons.