Markquis Nowell was not selected in the NBA Draft on Thursday, but that didn’t stop him from finding a new home with a professional team before the night was over.
Immediately after the draft came to an end news began to spread that Nowell had agreed to a two-way contract with the Toronto Raptors.
That means that the former Kansas State point guard will be eligible to play for the Raptors during the NBA Summer League and then suit up for either Toronto or a team in the G-League as a rookie next season. Players that sign two-way deals with teams are one step away from the NBA.
In that sense, you could call Nowell a third-round pick.
Toronto wasted little team reaching out to Nowell after the draft was over. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported the deal before ESPN switched away from Barclays Center and began airing “SportsCenter.”
It makes sense that the Raptors were interested in Nowell.
Nowell worked his way onto the NBA Draft radar with a sensational senior year at Kansas State that saw him average 17.6 points and 8.3 assists for the Wildcats, as they won 26 games and advanced to the Elite Eight.
He is only 5-foot-8 and 160 pounds, but no one could stop the undersized point guard during the NCAA Tournament. His postseason stat lines looked like they came out of a video game — 17 points and 14 assists against Montana State, 27 points and nine assists against Kentucky, 20 points and 19 assists against Michigan State and then 30 points and 12 assists against Florida Atlantic.
No one could stop him.
That was enough for Nowell to earn an invitation to the NBA’s G League Scouting Combine, where he put on a show in front of pro scouts. He also worked out privately with 10 NBA teams and made a good impression with several of them.
Still, it was going to be risky for any decision-maker to use a draft pick on a player with Nowell’s size. It was much more likely that he would need to prove himself as a free agent.
Now he will get an opportunity to make an NBA roster in Toronto. Earlier this week, he said he simply was hoping for another chance to prove his doubters wrong.
“That’s nothing new for me,” Nowell said. “I’ve been doing that my whole life.”