Aldridge heads west

Former LaBrae, Davidson standout signs with Utah Jazz summer league team

Peyton Aldridge was honest with himself, maybe more so than others.

The recent Davidson College graduate had a spectacular career with the Wildcats, earning Atlantic-10 Player of the Year honors and leading Davidson back to the NCAA Tournament as a senior.

It wasn’t enough to get him picked in last week’s NBA Draft, and Aldridge knew it before it started.

“As far as the draft, I knew my chances of getting drafted weren’t very likely,” he said, “so nothing really went by surprise.”

His phone did ring on draft night, however. The call was from his agent, who informed him the Utah Jazz wanted Aldridge, a 6-foot-7 forward, to be part of their summer league team. That became official Thursday as Aldridge said he signed a summer league deal with the Jazz.

“Since I just signed a summer league deal, it gives the Jazz a closer opportunity to take a look at me,” he said, “but when we’re playing all these games in the summer league, any team, if they see me and like me, they can pick me up.

“There’s even European scouts that will be there, so it’s just kind of a platform for me.”

All doors are still open for the 22-year-old LaBrae High School graduate.

The NBA Summer League begins next week, with most games being shown on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or NBA TV. All games are available on the ESPN App.

Aldridge is hoping to put on a good show and display his versatile skill-set to whoever is interested. He admitted his “dream” has always been to play in the NBA, but if someone doesn’t come calling this year, he’ll consider playing overseas or in the G-League, the NBA’s developmental league.

“I’m still weighing all my options to see what the best fit is for me,” he said. “Overseas is definitely an option.”

He said teams were pretty tight-lipped at workouts, so he wasn’t exactly sure what held them back from drafting him. Aldridge was coming off a season in which he was an honorable mention All-American, averaging 21.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists to go along making 38 percent of his 3-pointers and 85 percent of his free throws. His career numbers are near the top of numerous statistical categories.

His numbers weren’t enough, and while Aldridge said his workouts went well, he was honest in his own assessment.

“Just what I’ve heard, I’m kind of an in-betweener in positions between a 3 and a 4 with my size,” said Aldridge, listed at 6-7 and 205 pounds. “The question mark is can I defend at that position, either the 3 or the 4. That was probably the biggest question mark going in.”

The Summer League only runs through late July, so the Aldridges should have a better idea about Peyton’s future by August.

Peyton’s mother, Lisa, a former LaBrae basketball star and varsity girls coach for the Vikings, and father, Rick, a longtime boys baseball coach at LaBrae, also are wondering what’s going to come next. The Leavittsburg natives are admittedly “blessed” to be in such a situation, but the waiting and not knowing of what might happen is tough to endure. Peyton could be playing for the Jazz next year, or he could be an ocean away.

“It’s crazy process, and there’s a lot of things that we don’t understand, just as normal people,” Lisa said. “Rick and I are learning a lot through this process. We have a great agent, Peyton does, that we really trust and that hopefully will guide him in the right direction and help him to make that decision, along with us.”

That time is coming soon enough.