Aztec hoops alumni finding life in basketball tough after college

by Patrick Carr, Sports Editor

Coming into the 2015 basketball season, San Diego State had just one former player in the NBA.

That being said, the one former player is Kawhi Leonard, who just signed a max deal with the San Antonio Spurs and who also has NBA Finals MVP and NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards under his belt.

But some former Aztec men’s basketball players have taken an in-between step to the NBA.

Former guard Aqeel Quinn was taken in the fourth-round of last Saturday’s NBA D-League Draft by the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Houston Rockets’ D-League affiliate.

The Vipers won the D-League championship in 2010 and 2013 and lost the title game in 2011.

Dwayne Polee II was named to the Reno Bighorns’ training camp roster.

Xavier Thames was re-signed by the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in October after playing with the team in the 2014-15 season.

Other former players are still toiling around in the lower leagues.

Jamaal Franklin is no longer with the Denver Nuggets after signing a contract in April.

He was being courted by Chinese club Guangdong as recent as August after playing for the team in 2014-15.

Malcolm Thomas was invited to the Los Angeles D-Fenders training camp roster last Sunday.

He has bounced around in pro basketball since going undrafted in 2011 with stops in the Korean Basketball League, Israeli Basketball Premier League and several NBA teams and their D-League affiliates.

Women’s alumni update

For former SDSU women’s basketball players, life is a bit tougher.

Former guard Courtney Clements signed with the WBNA’s Los Angeles Sparks this summer after being cut by the Chicago Sky.

After graduating, she signed with the Atlanta Dream as a free agent. While in Atlanta, she became the first Aztec to play in the WNBA Finals when the Dream played against the Minnesota Lynx.

But Clements is no longer on Los Angeles’ roster.

Chelsea Hopkins is also looking for a new team after being waived by the New York Liberty back in June.