Former Rutgers men's basketball guard Caleb McConnell has signed an Exhibit-10 contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The deal came following the conclusion of the NBA Draft, during which McConnell did not hear his name called. Despite not being drafted, the player was on the radar of numerous NBA teams as a potential undrafted signee.
McConnell spent five seasons with the Scarlet Knights, where he became a defensive anchor for the team. He won two Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year awards and leaves Rutgers as the all-time leader in steals in program history. McConnell finished his college career as an all-time great due to his defense, grit and tenacity.
McConnell becomes the third former Scarlet Knight currently in the NBA, joining Ron Harper Jr. and Eugene Omoruyi. Harper Jr. is currently with the Toronto Raptors on a two-way contract. Omoruyi, who played three years for Rutgers prior to spending his final year of college with Oregon, is currently with the Detroit Pistons.
McConnell's Exhibit-10 contract will give him the opportunity to potentially get a two-way deal with Oklahoma City later in the summer.
McConnell will participate in the Thunder's training camp while trying to earn his place within the franchise. Prior to the start of the regular season, Oklahoma City will have the chance to convert the player's deal into a two-way contract. Since the Exhibit-10 contract is non-guaranteed, the program may also waive his contract if it does not see McConnell as having a future with the franchise.
McConnell will likely have to rely on his defensive prowess to try and get a two-way contract. During his college career, he was a versatile defender who could defend almost all positions on the basketball court.
If he can continue this defensive tenacity in the NBA while also working on his shooting and offensive game, he could very well earn himself that two-way contract that would allow him to spend time in both the NBA and the NBA's developmental league, the G League.
McConnell is no stranger to being an underdog. He has had to battle being injured and overlooked for his entire basketball career, yet he has persevered through it all. It will take much of that same perseverance to make a name for himself as a pro.
"This is a position I knew I would be in as far as being undrafted and taking that route," McConnell said. "I have no problem taking this route. I've been an underdog before. I actually look forward to it. I had a best friend that did it in Ron Harper, he's doing it now, and he's doing just fine with it. If he can do it, I know for sure I can do it."
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