DJ Steward, who has yet to play a single minute in an NBA game and is two years removed from his one-and-done season at Duke and two years removed from his second season as a double-digit scorer for the G League’s Stockton Kings, may have found the ideal platform to showcase his growing confidence.
Perhaps NBA scouts will take notice if he assumes a leading role for the Vancouver Bandits in the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) over the next few months. Then, he may get a chance to demonstrate his progress in training camp en route to a spot on a preseason roster, and so on, step by step.
The 21-year-old native of Chicago and former McDonald’s All-American signed with the Bandits in early April. And it’s fair to say that his league debut on Saturday was at least a notable individual success, despite a 90-85 loss on the road against the Winnipeg Sea Bears.
Steward’s 30 points were the most scored by a Bandits player in the season opener and tied the franchise record for a single contest. Consequently, he was granted the “Warrior of the Game” sash.
Granted, the Bandits have only been around for four years.
Nevertheless, DJ Steward’s outstanding performance on Saturday, which included seven assists and a perfect 9-for-9 mark from the charity stripe in 36 minutes of action, is indicative of a somewhat diminutive guard on a mission to establish his worth as a top-tier professional.
Ultimately, his aggressive play, as evidenced by his offensive rebound of a stray ball and subsequent highlight flush, may be the simplest way for him to distinguish himself from the multitudes of 6-foot-2 NBA hopefuls in their early 20s who departed college with remaining eligibility.
The undrafted Duke basketball prodigy, the 2020-21 Blue Devils’ second-leading scorer at 13.0 points per game, is off to a record-setting start in maximizing his opportunity to prosper in Canada.