Without a doubt, Sioux Falls, S.D., is one of the last places a basketball player who has had a taste of the NBA would want to be. But for former College of Charleston basketball player Andrew Goudelock, who spent the 2011-12 NBA season as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, it is the perfect spot.
Andrew GoudelockAge: 24Height: 6-3College: College of Charleston (2007-2011), career scoring leader with 2,571 pointsNBA: The No. 46 pick by Los Angeles Lakers in 2011 draft, averaged 4.4 points and played in 40 games, cut at end of 2012 preseasonNBA Development League: No. 2 pick by Sioux Falls Skyforce, averaging team-high 20.7 ppg
The undersized (6-3) shooting guard who holds the College of Charleston’s career scoring record was cut by the Lakers at the end of the preseason, but he was the No. 2 overall pick by the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the NBA Developmental League draft.
He is averaging a team-high 20.7 points per game and expects to catch the attention of some NBA team and make it back to the premier level of professional basketball.
“I’m not worried about getting picked up. I think it’s only a matter of time,” Goudelock said.
Sioux Falls coach Joel Abelson agrees with Goudelock, who currently is ranked No. 3 on the D-League’s Prospect Watch list.
“When I get the phone call this year that he’s going to the NBA, I hope he goes and stays and he is successful,” Abelson said, adding that he is “100 percent certain” Goudelock will be picked up. “There’s already been some interest. It’s not going to be very long.”
Why not Europe?
The minimum salary for a first- or second-year NBA player is just under $500,000. Salaries in the D-League, a minor league for the NBA, range from $12,000 to $25,500 per season. Goudelock could have elected to play overseas, where he would most certainly have commanded a six-figure salary.
“This is the only way to get back to the NBA this season besides sitting out,” Abelson explained. “You can’t go overseas and play and be picked up.”
Goudelock emphasized that it has never been about the money. He was in Charleston last month trying to sort things out after being cut when he got word he had been picked by Sioux Falls. The first thing people told him about the D-League was that the pay stinks.
“My dream has always been the NBA,” Goudelock said. “I talked with my agent and my mom and dad. And this is the quickest way to get back. It’s not glamorous, by no stretch what the NBA is. But it’s the quickest way back.”
When he was playing with the Lakers, Goudelock showed glimpses of greatness. But he didn’t fit into coach Mike Brown’s scheme and as the season wore on was relegated to the bench. His size is much more suitable for a point guard and he was having to make a transition from shooting guard, which he played in college and became the Cougars’ career scoring leader with 2,571 points.
Goudelock finished his rookie year in the NBA averaging 4.4 points and played in only 40 games. Brown didn’t last much longer with the Lakers than Goudelock, being fired after a 1-4 start this year.
Abelson said there was no question about picking Goudelock when the D-League draft was held. He said Goudelock was the best player available and he expected the Skyforce to win a lot of games because of Goudelock. And indeed, Sioux Falls is off to a 5-1 start. The Skyforce is playing Goudelock at both point and shooting guard, Abelson said, and he is averaging a team-high 39.2 minutes per game.
“There’s been very little adjustment for him,” Abelson said. “He’s come in and worked hard from the first day. He is in there to create and make things happen for us. We’re working with him on hitting the open man and defending the basketball consistently.”
The learning curve
With the Lakers, it was chartered flights and the finest hotels. The 16-team NBDL stretches from Portland, Maine, to Los Angeles. Teams take commercial flights, sometimes with lengthy layovers, and then must ride buses several hours to get to games. The Skyforce averaged more than 2,700 fans per game last year.
Goudelock said the lifestyle is more like college, and the fans, though not as loud, are in tune with the players, many of whom have enjoyed some time in the NBA.
Goudelock said the talent level in the NBA D-League is high. The most recent D-League player to make a splash in the NBA was Jeremy Lin, the former New York Knicks star who is now with the Houston Rockets.
“It’s a different lifestyle from being in L.A., even Charleston. It’s a lot colder and there are not as many people,” Goudelock said.
“It’s different, but from a basketball standpoint I’m learning a lot. You can definitely focus on what you want to do and get things done.”
Photo by Dave Eggen/NBAE/Getty Images Former College of Charleston star guard Andrew Goudelock is leading the Sioux Falls (S.D.) Skyforce in the NBA’s Developmental League as he tries to work his way back to the NBA after being cut by the Los Angeles Lakers.×