The third time is the charm for former NC State basketball player, Josh Powell.
After two other occassions, Josh Powell inked a one-year contract last week with the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs own an option for a second year. Powell will be guaranteed $410,000 next year, basically providing a guaranty that he will make the Mavs roster.
“Josh Powell finally reached the NBA, two years after he left North Carolina State after his sophomore season and was bypassed in the draft.
Powell, a 6-9 power forward, averaged 15.9 points and 11.9 rebounds last season in Italy. He was also impressive in summer league play.
“When people say you can’t do this, it’s always a motivation to work through things and make it a reality,” Powell said. “I always felt that I belonged in the NBA.”
The Road Less Traveled
Obviously the road to the NBA was not as smooth as was originally envisioned for Powell. Josh signed with NC State out of Riverdale High School in Georgia as a member of NC State’s heralded freshman class of 2001. He joined Julius Hodge, Levi Watkins, Jordan Collins and Ilian Evtimov in State’s consensus Top 5 recruiting class that was ranked as high as #3 in the country by Sports Illustrated.
Powell proceeded to have a fine freshman year and became only the second Sendek regular to shoot better than 50% from the field for a season. But, Powell truly blossomed as his sophomore season progressed in 2003 when he ended the campaign ranked seventh in the ACC in blocks (1.3 bpg), 20th in scoring (12.4 ppg) and 18th in rebounding (5.3 rpg). Powell’s late-season surge was exemplified by his selection to the First Team All-ACC Tournament, while averaging 20.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in three games that included a career-high 26 points in the ACC Championship game against Duke.
Josh surprised the basketball world when he declared for early entry into the NBA in after just his sophomore season, creating a big hole in the Wolfpack’s roster right when the program seemed poised to make legitimate noise in the 2003-2004 season. (DukeUpdate discussed Powell’s departure in their 2003-2004 season preview).
Just declaring himself eligible wasn’t enough to land Powell on an NBA roster. After going undrafted in the 2003 NBA draft, Powell was scooped up as the #1 pick in that summer’s CBA draft and a journey between the CBA, foreign-leagues and NBA summer leagues had begun.
On July 6, 2004, Powell looked close to landing with the Miami Heat and his plight was chronicled in this article in the Miami Herald. In the article, Powell publicly discussed his problems with the State program that had also been referenced at Duke Basketball Report but had (as usual) been dismissed when not completely ignored by the HSSS crowd in Raleigh.
”Nobody forced me to make the decision I made,” said Powell, a 6-9 player with the versatility to play both forward positions. ‘Nobody said, `Oh, you can be drafted,’ or anything. I made the decision on my own. Whether it was a mistake or a good thing, it was part of being a man and growing up.”
It seems curious that a player whose draft status was so unclear would risk his final two years of eligibility for a chance at NBA stardom. But sometimes these decisions aren’t as simple as figuring out draft positions and calculating future earnings.
Powell was willing to take his chances because any setting would be more comfortable than the one at N.C. State.
Powell, from Riverdale, Ga., went to N.C. State only because his mother and stepfather preferred the school. If he had followed his heart, Powell would have attended Georgia Tech, where then-coach Bobby Cremins was churning out NBA players almost every year.
Powell says he entered N.C. State with an open mind, but he never felt like the program had its priorities in order. Though Powell never mentioned the player by name, it seemed to him that the team was catering to blue-chipper Julius Hodge, and Powell was taking the lumps that came with it.
”Say you have a big-name player, and at the school it’s all about this guy, but you’ve got other players with potential, or even what they already do is more productive,” Powell said. ‘We just had a lot of stuff going on with the team internally that wasn’t positive for us. At one point in time I was about to say, `I don’t want to play basketball anymore.’ And I knew I shouldn’t be feeling like this.”
The Dallas Mavericks will play host to Julius Hodge’s Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, November 15, 2005