AL HAMNIK: VanderMeer hoping overseas savvy will impress NBA teams

2014-06-10T19:00:00Z 2014-09-09T19:37:07Z AL HAMNIK: VanderMeer hoping overseas savvy will impress NBA teamsAl Hamnik Times Columnist
June 10, 2014 7:00 pm  • 

Scott VanderMeer has seen more of the world than American Tourister.

"Japan, Switzerland, Romania, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Taiwan, China, Uruguay, Mexico -- and the NBDL," VanderMeer rattled off.

The 2004 Lake Central grad has a dream and it's not to be a travel agent or write for National Geographic.

He wants to play in the NBA. But he's 28 and banking on his vast experience overseas earning him a shot in the NBA Summer Leagues after the June 26 draft.

The 7-foot, 255-pound center entered the draft in 2009 as Illinois-Chicago's all-time shot blocker, but was not picked in either round. Between trips overseas, he bounced around the NBA Development League and has never gone a day without hope his dream will come true.

"I feel like I'm in my prime," VanderMeer said. "I've experienced the world and have seen various types of basketball. To me, I'm still attractive as someone who can contribute to an NBA team.

"I'm a winner. I've won over 80 percent of my games as a pro and five championships. I have a high basketball IQ. I'm a team player."

And he's not just another big dude on the floor.

"I've averaged 20-10 my last three seasons," VanderMeer said of his scoring and rebounding production. "I shoot the 3. I shoot outside. I shoot pick-and-pops."

VanderMeer previously has had tryouts with the Pacers, Bulls, Bucks and Warriors, but has never been invited to a training camp.

Any idea why?

"It could be my athletic ability," VanderMeer said. "Maybe I'm not as athletic as what people are looking for."

OK, he's not Dwight Howard or Marcin Gortat. But rim protectors are hard to find and VanderMeer has averaged almost 3.5 blocks per game wherever he's played.

Making a Summer League roster could be the break he's looking for.

Eventually, all athletic careers must end, unless you're the ageless Tim Duncan and discovered the Fountain of Youth in San Antonio. VanderMeer knows when it'll be time for him to walk away. He'll "feel" it.

He won't need a push.

"I could work 9-to-5 and make good money. Or I can travel the world for free and make even more money," VanderMeer said. "When it's time, I'll take a different path. But I haven't reached that path yet."

At the University of Illinois-Chicago, VanderMeer and Merrillville grad Josh Mayo lifted the program to new heights by providing a steady 1-2 punch.

They've since gone their separate ways, living out of a suitcase while searching for that next big game.

VanderMeer is the intriguing NBA prospect. His 31-point, 21-rebound, 4-assist, 3-block performance in Japan's NBDL All-Star Game helped open some eyes stateside.

Just how wide, we'll find out when Summer League rosters are compiled later this month.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at

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