MANHATTAN (KSNT) – The NBA Draft is just a few days away and while a K-State Wildcat has not been picked in the draft in nearly a decade, another former Wildcat has shown; that’s not the only path to the NBA.
“It’s only the beginning for me.”
Rodney McGruder just finished up his rookie year playing for the Miami Heat, but his journey to getting there is unlike what other NBA players have gone through.
McGruder was a star for Kansas State, leading the wildcats in scoring for two years and was an integral part in their Big 12 title run.
However, like many college players hoping to get to the NBA, McGruder went undrafted, and thus started a tough journey.
In 2013, he signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder, but was a cut a month later
In 2014, he was signed by the Boston Celtics, but was also cut a month later.
At that point, McGruder faced a harsh choice: Keep grinding it out? Or like his teammates, play pro basketball overseas.
Then Dan Craig, the head coach of the Sioux Falls Skyforce called.
“He was like, you’re going to be an NBA player,” McGruder said. “I want you to come and play for the D-league this year.”
McGruder followed suit, because he wanted to follow his dream.
“My goal in life was never to be an overseas basketball player,” McGruder said. “That wasn’t what drove me as a kid, I wanted to play in the NBA, and I told myself, the best possibility to get into the NBA is to play in the developmental league.”
After a year, and a championship with the D-league. McGruder joined the heat, and played the most games out of anyone on his team in his rookie season.