Sept. 29, 2009
Former Marquette University men's basketball players Dominic James, Wesley Matthews and Jerel McNeal are all continuing to chase their respective dream of playing in the National Basketball Association with participation in training camp action for a trio of teams.
James, who will wear No. 5 with the Milwaukee Bucks, remains within blocks of the Al McGuire Center as he begins his professional career. James, completely healthy for the first time in several months, is battling for a backup guard position on the roster. He will return to the Bradley Center on Saturday for a public practice at 1 p.m.
"I am blessed to be extended the opportunity to play for an organization I have become so familiar with over the last four years," James said. "To see the support I have received from the city of Milwaukee is great and definitely appreciated. Most people will say it's a long shot, but at least it's a shot."
Matthews is competing for a spot with the Utah Jazz, a team that finds itself with some injury questions as the 2009-10 campaign approaches. Matthews was one of the first players to arrive prior to camp and has caught the eye of head coach Jerry Sloan because of his physical defense.
"You see what a difference that makes, instead of just playing off and just trying to play passing lanes all the time," Sloan told the Salt Lake Tribune. "Get your body on people. Don't let them do what they want to do."
Matthews, awarded his familiar No. 23, recognizes and appreciates the opportunity he has been given.
"It's an opportunity of a lifetime to live out your dream," Matthews said. "Camp has been going very well. Competing with players that have a drive to win a championship forces you to step up and I have never been one to back down."
McNeal joins Marquette alum Steve Novak in training camp with the Los Angeles Clippers. The school's all-time leading scorer will have his work cut out for him as he attempts to claim a roster spot on a squad with a number of guards in camp. The Chicago, Ill., native was training in the Al McGuire Center up until the day he departed for Los Angeles and will wear No. 2 on his jersey.
"I am excited about the opportunity with the Clippers, who I believe are an up-and-coming team," McNeal said. "I am looking forward to competing in camp and the chance to realize my life-long dream."
The Bucks open the preseason schedule Oct. 4 at Minnesota. The Jazz host Denver on Oct. 1 in its lidlifter, while the Clippers travel to Golden State on Oct. 4.