Julian Mavunga’s drive toward a professional basketball career is ramping up.
The recent Miami University graduate participated in the NBA Summer League with the Indiana Pacers last week and was impressive enough to earn an invitation to the team’s training camp.
“Once the Pacers invited me to camp, I didn’t think twice about it,” said Mavunga, an Indianapolis native. “Being my hometown team, it was kind of a no-brainer for me. There was nothing else to think about.”
The 6-foot-8, 239-pound forward averaged 6.0 points and 6.0 rebounds during four Summer League games in Orlando, Fla., shooting 50.0 percent from the field and 83.3 percent from the foul line.
His best all-around showing came against the Boston Celtics on July 11. He had eight points, 12 boards, three assists, three steals and a blocked shot in just under 28 minutes of action.
“Whenever I was out there, I was kind of a jell guy,” Mavunga said. “Coming out as a rookie, you’re not trying to wow anybody with your scoring. You’re just trying to wow people by showing that you can really fit in.”
He said the differences in physicality, speed and skill between college ball and the NBA were evident.
“The NBA is a different ballgame,” Mavunga said. “I was nervous, but I was excited and ready to go. I took a deep breath and swallowed and just walked out there and played the game I’ve known how to play my whole life.
“I think I showed that I know the game and I play hard,” he continued. “That’s the two things that you want to show. They’re not going to invite somebody to play with them that isn’t a good basketball player. Now they want to see where your heart’s at, your basketball IQ, all the intangibles.”
Mavunga got the Summer League call just a few days before play began, and he didn’t participate in the opener. After that, he averaged nearly 20 minutes per game.
Mavunga will soon be starting individual workouts with some Pacer players. Training camp begins in October.
“I’m going to keep working on my body and on my skills,” Mavunga said. “It’s a journey to prove myself.”
He prepped at Brownsburg High School and went on to play in a school-record 124 games at Miami. Mavunga topped the Mid-American Conference in scoring (16.4) and rebounding (9.0) as a senior, joining Dick Walls, Wayne Embry and Ron Harper as the only players in program history to lead the league in both scoring and rebounding in a season.