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Walker Russell Jr. is back with the Mad Ants. Forgive him if he hopes the reunion is brief.
Russell played 28 games as a backup point guard with the Detroit Pistons last season and spent this year's training camp with the Oklahoma City Thunder before being cut.
He hopes the next NBA call comes in the not-so-distant future.
“I think that was my best training camp that I've had,” Russell said before a workout Tuesday at Concordia Seminary. “For the first time, NBA scouts and GMs were really, really advocating me staying (in the NBA D-League), so that's good. The day I was released four teams called.”
Russell has played with the Mad Ants at several points of their first five seasons, and set an NBA D-League record for assists in a season.
After a strong start last season, he earned a call-up to the Pistons. He averaged 3.0 points and 2.1 assists per game while playing about 13 minutes per night. He had highs of 15 points (vs. Atlanta) and five assists (vs. New Jersey).
“Last year playing the whole year really helped me out,” Russell said. “It was definitely a confidence booster. Instead of just getting called up, I got some playing time and produced. There were times I surprised myself, thinking 'You're really playing out your dream and not playing bad at all.'
“I showed that I could run a team and play defense on that level and could score on that level.”
Russell, 30, said he feels he is just entering his prime and intends to do whatever he can to help the Mad Ants while hoping for that next NBA opportunity. The Ants open their regular season on Nov. 23. The team will take part in the NBA D-League Draft on Friday, and holds the No.1 pick.
“I'd like to see if we can get some wins,” Russell said. “I know that's kind of cliché since I've been here. At the end of the day, I can have all the assists records and this and that, but we've got to get some wins going.”