NEW YORK – Former Syracuse star James Southerland has an agreement in principle on a non-guaranteed contract with the Charlotte Bobcats. The face of the franchise, who also happens to be a former college rival, believes the undrafted free agent small forward can help a young team in need of some offensive punch off the bench.
“He can shoot the ball, he has length, he can defend a little bit and, again, he can really shoot it,” Bobcats third-year point guard and former UConn star Kemba Walker told SNY.tv on Saturday evening at the Elite 24 under the Brooklyn Bridge. “We need guys that can spread the floor, so best of luck to him. Hopefully, he can make the team.”
Southerland has been on a bit of a wild ride since helping lead Syracuse to the Final Four. It was widely-reported in the days after the June 27 NBA Draft that the San Antonio Spurs were ready to select Southerland at No. 58 on the condition he spend a year in Europe developing his game. With nothing guaranteed after the year abroad, Southerland decided to weigh his options.
He averaged 7.2 points and shot 35.7 percent from 3-point range in five Orlando Summer League games with the Philadelphia 76ers. He followed that up the next week by averaging 4.0 points in limited minutes over seven games for the Golden State Warriors at Vegas Summer League.
Just as Walker played in so many big games with the Huskies, most notably winning the Big East and NCAA Tournaments as a junior 2011, so too has Southerland. He averaged 13.3 points and shot 39.8 percent from 3-point range as a senior for the East Regional-champion Orange. In March, Southerland broke the Big East Tournament record by hitting 18 3-pointers in the event to break Gerry McNamara’s record.
“Of course, but all that’s over now,” Walker deadpanned when asked if Southerland’s big-game experience can help at the NBA level. “It’s all about him putting in the work once he gets to training camp and just trying to do well. I think he’ll be fine.”
Southerland will have his work cut out for him at either forward spot once training camp opens at UNC Asheville. The Bobcats have Jeff Adrien on a non-guaranteed contract, re-signed Josh McRoberts and drafted Cody Zeller. On the wing, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is the starters, while Jeff Taylor played in 77 games, including 29 starts, as a rookie after getting drafted 31st overall in 2012.