“We’re getting younger. Finally,” says Miami Heat president about team
A high-scoring point guard and a defensively-gifted Southeastern Conference power forward headline the early list of players snagged by the Heat after Thursday’s NBA Draft.
Memphis combo guard Jeremiah Martin, who projects as a point guard at 6-3, and South Carolina 6-9 power forward Chris Silva were among the first players to commit to the Heat’s summer program in the hours after the draft. According to multiple reports, Miami also received a commitment from Iowa State 6-5 guard Nick Weiler Babb, Tennessee 6-11 power forward Kyle Alexander and Eastern Kentucky 6-9 forward Nick Mayo.
Martin agreed to an Exhibit 10 contract, which entails an invitation to training camp. If he’s waived in training camp and signs in the G League, he would play for the Heat’s G League affiliate and receive a $50,000 bonus.
The Heat intends to give two-way contracts to players based on summer league performance, with Martin and Silva to be among those strongly considered.
Last season, the Heat offered two-way deals to Yante Maten and Duncan Robinson after strong summer league performances.
Martin averaged 19.7 points and 4.4 assists as a senior at Memphis, shooting 45.1 percent from the field and 34.6 percent from three-point range.
He averaged 30 points a game in February, including a 41-point game at USF and a 43-point game against Tulane.
More than a half dozen teams pursued Martin after the draft, but he chose Miami because of opportunity (there’s no first- or second-year developmental point guard on the roster) and because of the Heat’s history of developing players.
“I had him off the ball earlier in the year, and he didn’t look like himself,” Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said in March. “I put him back on the ball and everything went back to normal. It’s been huge to have him. He’s been our savior, put the team on his back and done phenomenal things. We’ve asked a ton of him. His legacy, he’s in top 10 Tigers in scoring. He’ll go down as one of the better guards we’ve had here.”
Silva, meanwhile, averaged 15.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks at South Carolina last season while shooting 50.8 percent from the field. He was the SEC’s co-defensive player of the year in 2018 and first-team All-SEC last season.
And he showed good touch from distance, making 28 of 59 three-point attempts in four seasons at South Carolina (47.5), with most of those attempts coming as a senior.
“He’s performed a lot better over a longer period of time and won more games head-to-head and won more games than a lot of guys that are supposedly going to get drafted,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin told The State in Columbia, South Carolina earlier this week. “But I get it. He wasn’t a sexy recruit coming out of high school, so all the recruiting gurus didn’t give him credit coming out of high school. So then it’s hard to give him credit when it’s time to be a pro because they didn’t think that he was good enough back in the day…. He’s a beautiful kid.”
Silva, who is from a country on the coast of Central Africa (Gabon), finished his South Carolina career with 1,509 career points, which ranks 10th in program history. He also ranks sixth in rebounds (876), third in free throws made (577) and sixth in blocked shots (186).
Weiler-Babb played one season at Arkansas and the past three at Iowa State. He averaged 9.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists last season, shooting 40.2 percent from the field and 35.6 percent on three-pointers and finishing fourth in the Big 12 in minutes played.
Alexander played four seasons at Tennessee and last season averaged 7.4 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks while shooting 61.9 percent from the field. He attempted 14 three-pointers in four years, making five of them.
Mayo, who played four seasons at Eastern Kentucky, averaged 23.7 points (ranked 10th in the nation in scoring) on 46.2 percent shooting from the field and 33.1 percent (54 of 163) shooting from three-point range in 31 games as a senior this past season. He set the school record for career points (2,316).
“They had the most interest in me after my workout with them that went really well,” Mayo said of the Heat to the Morning Sentinel. “They called as soon as (the) draft ended about summer league.”
The Heat also is expected to have Georgetown forward Trey Mourning — son of Heat executive and former All-Star Alonzo Mourning — as part of its summer league program. He was a part-time starter for the Hoyas last season, averaging 6.3 points. and 3.8 rebounds in 26 games (11 starts) for Georgetown as a redshirt senior last season.
He played entirely off the bench in his first three seasons with the Hoyas, averaging 3.2 points and two rebounds in 62 games over his Georgetown career, with all 11 of his starts as a senior.
Mourning previously was a five-year member of the varsity team at Ransom Everglades, averaging 29 points and 10 rebounds during his senior season. He also set the school’s single-game scoring record as a senior, finishing with 52 points, 22 rebounds and 12 blocks in a win over Miami La Salle.