Denton: Vucevic and Dedmon Familiar With One Another

By John Denton
Feb. 25, 2014

WASHINGTON D.C. – It’s been four years, but center Nikola Vucevic has some experience of playing against one of the two newest members of the Orlando Magic.

During his junior season at USC, Vucevic practiced daily against ultra-athletic 7-footer Dewayne Dedmon, who was redshirting at the time after transferring to USC from Antelope Valley College. Dedmon, who has played this season for Golden State and Philadelphia, signed a 10-day contract with the Magic on Monday night.

``Dewayne was there (at USC) the second semester of my junior year. He was practicing against us because he was red-shirting. He’s good, he plays hard, he’s athletic and he brings a lot of energy,’’ Vucevic said of Dedmon. ``I never played with him, but I was always going against him in practice. He plays with a lot of energy.’’

The Magic also signed small forward Adonis Thomas to a 10-day contract on Monday night. Dedmon, who will wear No. 3, and Thomas, who will wear No. 8, give the Magic 14 players on the roster going into Tuesday night’s game in Washington against the Wizards. Both are available to play tonight if called upon by Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn.

``This is a dream come true. I’m excited for the opportunity and I’m excited that the Magic see something in me and giving me this opportunity,’’ said Thomas, a Memphis native and a University of Memphis product. ``It’s on me to play hard and do whatever I can. If Coach throws me in there it’s great. If not, it’s on me to be a great teammate and a great guy.’’

Dedmon and Thomas are the first players signed to 10-day contracts by the Magic since Mark Jones and Andre Barrett on March 23 and 31 of 2005. They are the 23rd and 24th callus from the NBA Developmental League this season.

``We introduced them to the group this morning and that’s where we are now. They’ll get a chance to talk to the coaches a little bit and talk about our coverages and schemes,’’ Vaughn said at the morning shoot-around practice. ``I’ve gotten a chance to look at them on film and see what they have done. Dedmon has had a couple of 10-days with Philly, so I’ve been able to see him already. And Adonis, I’ve seen him in college and the D-League. He’s shot it pretty well in the D-League and we’ll see if he can do it at this level.’’

Dedmon, who wasn’t selected in the 2013 NBA Draft, played 15 NBA games this season with the Warriors and 76ers. The 7-foot, 255-pound center averaged 2.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 0.6 blocks in 10.4 minutes a game. He also appeared in 15 games with the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBA Development League, averaging 15.2 points, 13.1 rebounds, 2.33 blocks and 1.53 steals per game. He said that his prior NBA experience should aid him in adjusting quicker to the NBA and the Magic.

``Coming from a (Philadelphia) team where I was getting some playing time at this (NBA) level, the definitely helps out,’’ Dedmon said. ``It helps with confidence being able to play, rebound and block shots at this level. To be able to bring that to this team, the ground work has already been set. So it’s a lot easier.’’

Dedmon said his one season in college facing the likes of Vucevic helped get him ready for the better competition that he would later face at the professional level. ``That was a lot of growing and getting used to play against people at that level,’’ Dedmon remembered. ``The coaches decided to bring me in early to play against guys like Vooch and Alex Stevens, bigger players than I faced in junior college, and that helped me out a lot.’’

Thomas has played in 26 games (21 starts) with the Springfield Armor of the NBA Development League, averaging 16.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 35.1 minutes per game. He shot 46.9 percent (38-81) from three-point range in the D-League and hopes he can continue that at the NBA level.

``I can bring everything a wing should do in the NBA – playing defense, being able to guard multiple positions, being able to run the floor and get out on the break, scoring in transition and making open shots,’’ Thomas said. ``A big thing for me was extending my range and I’ve done a good job of that so far this year.’’ Thomas knows that he has but 10 days to impress the Magic. Per the NBA’s CBA, Thomas and Dedmon can be signed to one additional 10-day contract and then they must be either picked up for the rest of the season or waived.

``It’s just about interacting with the guys and some of these guys I am already familiar with like Tobias (Harris), Victor (Oladipo) and Mo Harkless,’’ Thomas said of his familiarity with the Magic roster. ``I just have to feel guys out and be a great teammate.’’