Basketball / NBA

Mavericks sign Togashi to contract; D-League assignment expected

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The Dallas Mavericks have signed free agent guard Yuki Togashi to a contact, the NBA team announced on Wednesday.

After Togashi showcased his offensive skills in four games during the NBA Las Vegas Summer League in July, including 12 points in 11 minutes against the Charlotte Hornets, the Mavericks decided to invite him to training camp. He left Japan on Saturday.

Togashi observed Mavs workouts on Wednesday.

“I watched training and it was really impressive,” he was quoted as saying by Kyodo News. “There were a lot of things I can learn and I want to take it all in.”

The 21-year-old native of Niigata Prefecture is expected to begin the season with the Texas Legends, the Mavs’ NBA Development League team. The D-League draft will be held on Nov. 1, but by signing him to a contract now, the Mavs have already started to outline their plans for him for the 2014-15 season.

Dallas plays against LeBron James and the host Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday in a preseason contest. The Mavs’ NBA regular season tips off on Oct. 28 against the reigning champion San Antonio Spurs, and Togashi could see action in Dallas’ remaining preseason games. But whether he plays in exhibition games or not, this training camp is a good experience for him, veteran basketball observers have pointed out.

Donnie Nelson, the Mavericks’ president of basketball operations, confirmed Togashi’s likely assignment to start the season is with the Legends.

“We’ve got a limited window to take a look,” Nelson told the Fort Wort Star-Telegram. “But really his opportunities are going to be with the Texas Legends.

“I’d say it’s a long shot at best for him to make (an NBA) roster right now. But it’s an opportunity for him to make his dream come true in reality to play for the Legends and, like so many guys before him, to use this as a springboard to get in the league.”

Togashi, who didn’t play college ball, suited up for the bj-league’s Akita Northern Happinets for the past two seasons. He made his pro debut on Feb. 2, 2013, and was a key contributor for Akita from the get-go.

Togashi led the bj-league in assists last season (7.9 per game) as Akita rolled to a 40-12 regular-season record and represented the Eastern Conference in the championship game for the first time. He also earned All-Star MVP accolades.

The Ryukyu Golden Kings topped the Happinets to nab the title. Togashi had 30 points and five assists in the finale on May 25.

The 167-cm Togashi went to hoop powerhouse Montrose Christian School in Rockville, Maryland, the same school that NBA superstar Kevin Durant and NBL players Keijuro “K.J.” Matsui and Taishi Ito attended.

Happinets forward Ruben Boykin, who played alongside Togashi last season, praised his ex-teammate for his commitment to excellence.

“Yuki is a gym rat,” Boykin told The Japan Times on Thursday. “He studies the game when he is at home and he masters his craft before, during, and after practice. He put in many hours when nobody was watching him and that’s why he is where he is now.”

He added: “It takes hard work to be selected to an NBA team. But his dedication to the game allows him to get where he is. His confidence in his game as well as in himself will allow him to go far with his career.

“Success does not just happen for people who play basketball or work a regular job, you have to put in extra hours for your dreams to become a reality.”

Guard Yuta Tabuse, who has played for the Link Tochigi Brex since 2008, is the only Japanese to appear in an NBA regular-season game (four games for the Phoenix Suns in 2004).

Calls for shorter season

New York AFP-JIJI

Four-time NBA MVP LeBron James and German star Dirk Nowitzki say the league needs to look at shortening its 82-game per club regular-season schedule.

“Less games is less concessions and less tickets and all that, but at the end of the day we want to protect the prize, and the prize is the players,” James said Wednesday.

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