Sammy Mejia: Making Up For A Late Start In Fort Wayne

by Matthew Brennan, D-League.com

Sammy Mejia of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants has emerged as a star in his first D-League season, averaging 24.6 points and 9.0 rebounds for the Mad Ants in his first eight games, and also earning a D-League Performer of the Week honor. Mejia turned in another strong all-around performance at the D-League Showcase on Tuesday, scoring 17 points, eight rebounds, and four assists in a loss to the D-Fenders.

Sammy Mejia, Fort Wayne Mad Ants
Ron Hoskins/Getty Images/NBAE
"I feel pretty excited about how well I am playing," says Mejia about his first stint in the D-League. "Of course I always think I can do better. But I feel that I have done a pretty good job so far, especially after not playing for so long, I am happy that I have been able to come back and be productive."

Mejia's play is all the more remarkable when you consider the adversity he has faced in the infancy of his professional career. A star player at DePaul, Mejia was the 57th overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons. Although Mejia was expected to make the team after playing well in training camp, he was the final cut by Detroit before the season started. Mejia then headed to the D-League and was expected to play for Fort Wayne, but suffered an injury to his foot and was unable to join the Mad Ants' roster until late December, a month into the season.

"That was terrible, being not able to play makes things that much worse," said Mejia about his experience. "Being cut by the Pistons was bad, but if I had just been able to get out there and play I wouldn't have thought about it as much. Just sitting around and you can't travel with the team or be on the roster was definitely a tough experience for me."

While in Fort Wayne, Mejia has had the chance to play under veteran head coach Kent Davison. As someone who has coached in the D-League since its' inception, Davison knows what it takes for players to reach the next level and Mejia is quick to praise Davison's enthusiasm for basketball and ability to motivate his players.

"Coach Davison does a great job, said Mejia. "He is a great motivator, he believes in his players and you can tell that he has a passion for the game. He also has a passion to help his players get better. It's great playing for a guy like him because he cares so much about the game and his players."

Now that Mejia has been able to show his skills in the D-League, he is considered a main candidate to receive a GATORADE Call-Up. The 6-6 Mejia did little to damage his stock in front of the NBA scouts and front-office personnel at the D-League Showcase in Boise. Mejia addressed the challenge that such an event can put on players who want to be noticed, but still play fundamental basketball.

"I'm sure it puts pressure on everybody, because everyone tries to showcase themselves," he said after his first game in Boise. "At times the game gets a little erratic because guys are trying to do too much. You really can't do anything about it or control that, but in a game like that you know it will happen because there are so many people watchings. I am not really suprised at the way the games have been played so far."

Mejia knows that his numbers are already getting the scouts' attention, so he tries to keep it simple when it comes to playing the game. His main focus in the D-League is showing potential NBA suitors that he can bring the same consistent performance on a daily basis.

"Consistency and being aggressive, just being the kind of guy that the scouts know what they are going to get out of me in every game", said Mejia. "I just want to be aggressive on every possesion and make things happen."