The Denver Nuggets have signed three players to help fill in during training camp. The three players are Dontaye Draper, Kurt Looby and Keith Brumbaugh.
Draper is a point guard who played for the Nuggets summer league team. He is short and slight at 5’ 11” 180 pounds, but is quick with the ball and is a decent shooter. He is a borderline NBA player, but with Denver possessing thee point guards with guaranteed contracts Draper is bound to serve the role of warm body. Apparently Draper, out of the College of Charleston, did not play organized ball last year as his last appearance on the hoops grid was with the Wizards 2008 summer league entry.
Looby is a 6’ 10” 230 pound center who played in the D-League last season. Looby played collegiately at Iowa and it goes to show how far Iowa has fallen since the days of Dr. Tom Davis since I doubt I ever saw him play despite Iowa’s presence in the Big 10. Looby’s stats suggest he is a Steven Hunter type rebounder/shot blocker.
The real interesting player of the three is Brumbaugh. Listed as a 6’ 10” forward he is actually a shooting guard/small forward. Brumbaugh played in the D-League last year as well and put up uninspiring numbers, but he has a very interesting back story.
Brumbaugh was once a big time high school prospect and according to an SI article prior to the 2008 draft by Andy Staples only the second high school player to be a counselor at Michael Jordan’s camp behind some guy named LeBrum, no it was LeBron, yeah, LeBron James, whoever that is. He entered his name in the 2005 NBA Draft, but withdrew to avoid being drafted in the second round.
After earning a scholarship with Oklahoma State his ACT score of 24 was flagged and he ended up losing his scholarship when he scored a 20, one point shy of the mark required to verify his original score. He also experienced his first brush with the law in Stillwater when he was charged with shoplifting, which may have led to someone requesting the check on his Act score, and things went downhill for Brumbaugh from there.
Since he couldn’t play at Oklahoma State, Brumbaugh returned to DeLand, a small central Florida town that has yet to be swallowed by Orlando’s suburban sprawl. Brumbaugh couldn’t stand the looks he got. At 6-9, he felt he didn’t fit in anywhere but a basketball court. He’d “zombied out” on basketball, and he didn’t know what to do with himself.
One thing that relaxed him, he said, was shooting at a local gun range. “Remember,” he said, “I’m from the country.” That hobby explained why, Brumbaugh said, he had in his trunk a Bushmaster rifle with 56 rounds in the magazine and several hundred loose rounds when he noticed police lights in his rearview mirror on May 20, 2006, exactly a year to the day after his press conference to announce his entry in the NBA draft. Brumbaugh’s cousin, Justin Brown, was in the passenger seat. Brown, a convicted felon, knew he’d get thrown in jail if police found him in the same vehicle as a firearm, even a legally purchased one that belonged to someone else (Brumbaugh’s gun was legal). So he ran. Brumbaugh did the same.
Brumbaugh said he only had the gun and the ammo to use at the range. (Police also found a knife, according to the report.)
When the two boys sprinted away, Brumbaugh’s mind raced. His high-school sweetheart was pregnant with their daughter. Would he have to see her for the first time behind bulletproof glass? Next thing he knew, he was shirtless, sweating and climbing fences to get away. “It was like panic mode,” Brumbaugh said. “I’m (thinking I’m) not going to be able to see my kid. It’s not an excuse. It was very dumb. I’m just trying to explain my reasoning. It’s still dumb.”
Brumbaugh and his cousin were eventually caught and arrested, and a Volusia County judge accepted Brumbaugh’s explanation and gave him only probation. If he stayed out of trouble, he could essentially wipe away his mistake. Brumbaugh then moved to Marianna, Fla., home of junior-college power Chipola. Five weeks into his probation, his car sat unattended, blasting music. Brumbaugh ran for the driver’s seat as a police officer approached. According to the police report, the officer spied Brumbaugh hiding something under the seat. “The guy asked me if I had anything in the car,” Brumbaugh said. “I said yes. I tried to do the honest thing.”
According to the report, Brumbaugh had a little more than a third of an ounce of marijuana in four small bags. “Once again,” he said, “it was very dumb.” Though Florida has a misdemeanor charge for fewer than 20 grams (about two-thirds of an ounce) of marijuana, police used the four bags as evidence to ask the State Attorney’s Office to charge Brumbaugh with possession with intent to distribute, a felony.
Brumbaugh spent time in jail for the incident, but the charges were reduced by a judge on the condition he would find something productive to do with his time. That led him to Houston and John Lucas. While in Houston Brumbaugh learned to deal with his temper which was the major flaw in an individual who Staples referred to as a “witty, whip-smart [then] 22-year-old with a gift for introspection and an ability to put a stranger at ease.”
He then found his way to Hillsborough Community College where he averaged 36.5 points, 10 points, 6.1 assists and 4.8 steals. He then entered the 2008 draft, but went undrafted and joined the Sioux Falls Skyforce. His best performance was a 34 point, eight rebound outing against the Erie Bayhawks.
There seems to be little chance that Brumbaugh sticks with the Nuggets, but he shoots a high percentage and definitely has talent. Stories like his are what make sports compelling and I hope he represents himself well in Denver.
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