After spending the last two years as the leader of the University of Rhode Island men’s basketball team, shooting guard Xavier Munford was selected in the third round of the NBA Developmental League’s 2014 Draft.
With this news, it is needless to say that I am extremely happy for Munford. With more than 1,000 points in just a two-year career with the Rams, the 22-year-old has cemented himself as one of URI’s the best players in recent memory along with guys like 2011 graduate Delroy James.
If all goes well, we could see Munford get a chance to play on an NBA roster in a few months. Though this may be a long shot, as he was drafted in the third round by Boston Celtics-affiliated Maine Red Claws, and eventually traded to the Phoenix Suns-owned Bakersfield Jam, anything is possible once the brunt of the season begins.
Something that may end up hurting Munford, though, is the fact that the Suns have some of the most talented guards in the NBA. These players include the likes of floor general Goran Dragic, defensive stud Eric Bledsoe, stat stuffer Isaiah Thomas, athletic high-flyer Gerald Green, last season’s 29th overall pick, Archie Goodwin, and this year’s 18th overall pick, Tyler Ennis.
On top of that, Munford isn’t exactly the most accurate shooter either. With a 39.8 shooting percentage in his time at URI, he will without a doubt need to raise his game if he wants a chance at making it to the association. In his defense, he was one of the few players who could create a shot for the Rams, and was also called upon to bail out teammates on bad possessions. Plenty of raw talent has excelled in the league after being notorious for flaky shooting. O.J. Mayo, Monta Ellis and J.R. Smith are some of the more recent examples among others.
While cracking a spot on the Suns’ current roster is unlikely, it doesn’t mean that Munford can’t land somewhere else if he plays well enough. P.J. Hairston, a member of last year’s D-League all-rookie second team, entered the draft this season and was selected 26th overall by the Miami Heat before he was traded to the Charlotte Hornets on draft night. Making the NBA is never out of the question for players in the D-League, no matter how hard the feat may seem.
If things don’t work out in the United States, Munford could always follow the route of the aforementioned James and opt to play professionally overseas. While James never made it out of the D-League, he has forged quite the career for himself in Italy. The 6-foot-8 power forward averaged 7.8 rebounds per game, good for fifth-best in the league, and 12.2 points in 29 minutes per matchup last season.
Playing foreign basketball has its pros and cons. Things like language barriers, culture shock and taking the trek to the other side of the world can be seen as down sides, but the potential financial and playing opportunities can outweigh the negatives. Chasing a dream, especially one with such high rewards, has its risks.
Whether he cracks an NBA roster or not, it appears that Munford has a bright future ahead of him. As one of my favorite players to watch during his time here in Kingston, I wish him the best.