The Dallas Mavericks have invited point guard Yuki Togashi to their preseason training camp, according to Cloud9, his management company.
The announcement was made on Tuesday, and Togashi is scheduled to travel to Dallas on Saturday.
Japanese supporters expressed their excitement via Twitter.
Exhibit A: “Yuki Togashi was invited (to) the last camp by the Dallas Mavericks!!” tweeted Akira Tokusatsu. “Great! I know it’s really tough but I believe he takes the chance!!”
Guard Yuta Tabuse, now with the NBL’s Link Tochigi Brex, became the first Japanese to play in the NBA in 2004 during a four-game stint with the Phoenix Suns.
The Mavericks meet the Indiana Pacers in a preseason game on Sunday, and have five more upcoming exhibition matches after that. They open the regular season on the road against the defending champion San Antonio Spurs on Oct. 28
As of Tuesday night (Japan time), the Mavericks had six guards listed on their current roster: Monta Ellis, Raymond Felton, Ricky Ledo, Gal Mekel, Devin Harris and Jameer Nelson.
In July, Togashi, a Niigata Prefecture native, suited up for the Mavs’ NBA Summer League team in Las Vegas. In four games, he saw 37 minutes of court time, including 11 against the Charlotte Hornets in a contest that he had 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting.
Togashi recently played for the Japan national at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
The 167-cm Togashi is viewed by some basketball experts as an NBA Development League project for the upcoming season. The 2014 D-League Draft will be held on Nov. 1.
Some insiders believe he’s on the wish list of the Texas Legends, Dallas’ D-League affiliate.
In an interview with dleaguedigest.com in July after the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, Texas Legends assistant coach/operations manager Tyler Gatlin was quoted as saying,” We did a bunch of different workouts with Yuki, and eventually we built him up to five-on-five competition where he demonstrated his true point guard abilities. He’s a distributor, and handles the ball really well. He can play in the pick-and-roll offense and doesn’t have to be overly aggressive on scoring. Yuki understands how to get his teammates involved, he’s very savvy.”
Dean Murray, a Legends assistant coach, analyzed Togashi’s overseas pro prospects after the Summer League wrapped up.
“As a player in the D-League, (Togashi) would have to be able to come off the bench and be a ‘change of pace’ player and get the tempo of the game up,” Murray told The Japan Times in July.
“He seemed to be able to make good decisions and not turn the ball over in transition. He also was able to hit the open jump shot, but as a half-court set-up guard that is not his strength at a higher level on the offensive end.”
Murray said Togashi’s size put him at a distinct disadvantage on the defensive end, which could be the biggest factor in whether he earns a roster spot in the NBA or D-League for the coming season.
“He obviously is a good competitor and fan favorite,” Murray said, “but the reality is can he be an effective player off the bench on both the offensive and defensive end and he will have to prove that against bigger and stronger guards.”
Togashi began his pro basketball career with the bj-league’s Akita Northern Happinets in February 2012. As a second-year pro, the 21-year-old led the bj-league in assists (7.9 per game) last season and helped the Northern Happinets earn a championship runnerup finish.