Mike James (middle) signed his first NBA contract with the Suns and will compete in his second Summer League with the Suns in Las Vegas. In 2015, James scored 32 points in the Las Vegas Summer League championship against the San Antonio Spurs. Two years after scoring 32 points in the championship game of the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas with the Phoenix Suns, point guard Mike James has earned another opportunity.
The Lamar University product went undrafted in 2012 after scoring 17.1 points and dishing out 1.9 assists per game in 56 games at the Beaumont, Texas, institution. He took his talents overseas where he has played for the past five seasons with teams in Croatia, Israel, Italy, Spain and Greece.
Most recently, the 6-foot-1 James finished the 2016-17 season in Greece with the team Panathinaikos. He helped it win both the Greek Basket League and Greek Cup while averaging 13.1 points and three assists per game.
After signing his first NBA contract on Monday, James was happy to join a familiar team that begins Summer League play on Friday.
“It’s fun to come to an organization where you already know everybody and everybody’s like ‘How have you been?’ rather than ‘Where you from?’ so it’s cool that way,” said James, who started his collegiate career in Eastern Arizona.
During his first stint with the Suns in 2015, James averaged 12.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists and started five of the seven NBA Summer League games in which he played. His performance wasn’t enough to win a roster spot and James went back overseas to continue his international career. He played the 2015-2016 season in Liga ACB, Spain’s top-tier league with Baskonia.
This time around, James won’t have to go back overseas, and could have an impact on a young Suns team that is building for the future.
As the oldest player on the Suns’ Summer League roster, James, who will turn 27 in August, said his experience and knowledge will be valuable to pass down to younger players. He showed that on Wednesday, playing with the young core group of Dragan Bender, Josh Jackson, Marquese Chriss and Derrick Jones Jr. during their end-of-practice scrimmage.
“He kind of knows the environment and I think he’s accepted the culture that were trying to build here through Coach Watson,” said Suns Summer League Coach Marlon Garnett. “It’s big to have somebody experienced that’s playing the point guard position so that can kind of permeate to the rest of the guys
After only two days, James has already earned the approval of the younger players on the roster. Jones is one of those players. Jones came to the Suns from their D-League affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns, last year and even though he has a year in the league under his belt, he’s never played in the Summer League before. With an older guy like James on the team, Jones knows he’ll have someone to lean on for advice.
“He’s just that point guard that he’s going to just help us out because he’s played in summer leagues before, and he played overseas and he has all the accolades,” Jones said. “We can just sit back and use all the resources we have.”
The Suns kick off their Summer League schedule with a matchup against the Sacramento Kings.
Michael Perry “Mike” James (born August 18, 1990) is an American professional basketball player for the Phoenix Suns of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was a high school basketball standout playing for Grant High School in Portland, and played college basketball for Eastern Arizona College and Lamar University.
James, the son of Lisa Behrndt, was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. While in Portland, he played basketball for Grant High School under coach Tony Broadous. In 2007–08, as a senior, he was ranked the No. 3 Player in the state and No. 184 overall. He averaged 15 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals per game. The team went on to win the 2008 Oregon state championship.
James started his college career at Eastern Arizona College, a national junior college where he played under coach Maurice Leitzke. In his first year, he averaged 20 points per game shooting 42 percent overall, 33.3 percent from three-point range and 78 percent free throws. He was named all-conference and all-region teams as well as being ranked No. 40 best junior college player by Rivals.com. As a sophomore, he was the fourth leading scorer in the NJCAA Division I recording 26 points per game. In addition he contributed 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.
In 2010, James transferred to an NCAA Division I school, Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. Here he played under coach Steve Roccaforte in 2010–11 and under coach Pat Knight for the 2011–12 NCAA season. Playing a little over 18 minutes a game, he averaged 12.5 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.1 steals. He led the team in scoring, even though he only started two out of twenty-four games for the season. He included a 52-point game on January 4, 2011 against Louisiana College, which Lamar Cardinals won 114–62, breaking the previous record of 50 set by Mike Oliver in 1980. In addition, he broke Lamar University’s Montagne Center record for most points scored in a single game with 52, field goals made with 18, field goal attempts with 35, three-pointers made with 11 and three-pointer attempts with 21. In his senior season (2011–12), he averaged 17.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.6 steals per game shooting 45.3 percent overall. One notable game of his was against the 2012 NCAA champion University of Kentucky, where he scored 29 points. His senior season ended in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament with a loss against Vermont. By the end of his season, he was named All-Southland First Team, Southland Tournament MVP and Southland Conference Player of the Week three times in four weeks.
In August 2012, James signed with KK Zagreb of Croatia for the 2012–13 season. In December 2012, he left Zagreb. In February 2013, he signed with Hapoel Gilboa Galil of Israel for the rest of the season.
In July 2013, James signed with Paffoni Omegna of Italy for the 2013–14 season.
In August 2014, James signed a one-year contract with Kolossos Rodou of Greece. On December 2, 2014, he left Kolossos and signed with the Spanish club Laboral Kutxa Baskonia for the rest of the season.
In July 2015, James joined the Phoenix Suns for the 2015 NBA Summer League. That same month, re-signed with Baskonia for one more season.
On July 3, 2016, James signed with Panathinaikos Athens for the 2016–17 season. He helped Panathinaikos win both the Greek Basketball Cup and Greek Basket League championship in 2016–17.