las vegas, nv
Nate Wolters took the first step towards making his NBA dream come true this weekend. The South Dakota State basketball legend made his Summer League debut with the Milwaukee Bucks in Las Vegas and KELOLAND Sports was there.
It wasn't long ago, Wolters was making shots for South Dakota State and now that same floater continues to come in handy despite the jump in competition at the NBA Summer League.
"It's a cool experience. A lot of good players here. A lot of guys with NBA experience. It's been fun so far and looking forward to the rest of it," Wolters said.
In two games this weekend, Wolters tallied a total of eight points in 36 minutes. He's also averaging nearly two rebounds, three assists and one steal per contest.
Taking it all in from the stands have been a few of Wolters' close friends including Austin Miller.
"We thought it would be amazing to see the first time he got to play in an NBA jersey," Miller said.
Miller and a couple of others surprised Wolters at his first game against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday.
"He was my roommate for two years and it is absolutely wild that he is playing with NBA guys and he looked like he was just loving it. Even when he was on the bench, he was all smiles looking like he was just loving the experience," Miller said.
While Las Vegas is a long ways away from Brookings, South Dakota, and the campus of SDSU, the exposure Wolters is giving the university is brand new and exciting. The pro playmaker will always remember his time there and he's grateful for all he learned under head coach Scott Nagy.
"He got me to where I am right now. He gave me a ton of freedom. He had a lot of confidence in me. He just trusted me to make plays and that's what I was able to do at South Dakota State, which gave me this opportunity," Wolters said.
Wolters is learning under a new set of coaches these days, one of whom wasn't a bad ballplayer himself way back when. 13-year NBA veteran and now Bucks assistant Nick Van Exel likes what he sees in the rookie and says he has plenty of potential.
"Right now, he's trying to score a little bit too much, but he has the ability to see the floor and make passes. It's just a matter of him slowing down. Right now, it seems like the court is a little tight for him and it makes the game a little difficult, but you can tell he has the poise to get better. When you talk to him, he listens and he wants to get better so it's just a matter of time for him," Van Exel said.
The Summer League experience will no doubt be key for the 38th pick in this year's NBA Draft and Wolters hopes to take it all in. He admits it will be tough but when it's all said and done, he knows where he wants to be.
"Hopefully in the NBA for a long time. It's going to take a lot of hard work and I'm just taking it day by day trying to learn as much as I can and get better," Wolters said.
Wolters and the Bucks continue Summer League action in Las Vegas Tuesday against Golden State.
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