Penn State Basketball alumnus: Frazier’s surprising NBA debut

Tim Frazier ended his NBA debut last night with a few rare accomplishments.

The former Penn State point guard became the first Nittany Lion alumnus to play in the NBA since Calvin Booth with the Sacramento Kings in 2009, according to Black Shoe Diaries.

The most stunning of Frazier’s accomplishments included that he was the only player in the last 30 years to have double-digit assists off the bench in his NBA debut according to Basketball Reference.The undrafted rookie from Penn State signed a 10-day contract on Wednesday as a result of injuries to guard Michael Carter-Williams and guard Tony Wroten. Frazier’s contract led to Larry Drew II being summoned back to the NBA’s Developmental League.

The battle to make it to the NBA finally came to fruition last night against the familiar Boston Celtics organization whom he played for just days before. The 24-year-old Frazier played for Boston’s Developmental League team, the Maine Red Claws. He played at a high-level and earned a spot on the Futures All-Star team for the D-League All-Star Game.

Although in a Sixers 107-96 loss, Frazier’s performance gained most of the attention. He recorded a game-high 11 assists which put him in elite company with teammate Michael Carter-Williams, Damian Lillard, Damon Stoudamire, Jason Kidd, and Spud Webb whom all recorded 10-plus assists in their first career games, according to CSNPhilly.com. Also, Frazier became the first Penn State player to record 10-plus assists in an NBA game since Frank Brickowski had 10 for Milwaukee vs. Phoenix on December of 1993. To round out his stat line, he didn’t shoot well from the field but ended 5 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals to go with only 2 turnovers in 35 grueling minutes.

 

Who is Tim Frazier?

Tim Frazier after stunning 2011 NCAA Tournament loss to Temple.

The Houston, Texas born 6-foot-1, 170-pound guard committed to Penn State in 2008 “for great academics and a great basketball team” after offers from schools in the West Coast. His explosive agility, quickness, and ability to be an effective “team player” are his strengths but the knock on him has always been his lack of size.

He spent a solid career at Penn State but didn’t get the attention other top tier players get. It was in part of the struggling Penn State basketball program.

Frazier was granted a fifth-year of eligibility after he ruptured his left Achilles tendon in his junior season (2011). He made the tough comeback road for the 2013 season. He joined D.J. Newbill to establish one of the best backcourts in the country. He didn’t score as much as he did in his sophomore season which included 18.8 points per game. He played the facilitator role in the offense. At Penn State, he was a multifaceted player. He could score, find the open man, rise up for rebounds, and come away with a few steals every game.

He ended his career as one of the most prominent Penn State basketball players to ever put on the blue and white. His accolades included a First-team All-Big Ten selection (2012), 3-time Academic All-Big Ten selection (2010–2013), Big Ten All-Defensive Team selection (2012), Third-team All-Big Ten selection (2014), a Big Ten Sportsmanship Award (2014), a Senior CLASS Award finalist (2014), and awarded to the Bob Cousy Award (2014) watch list.

He was a key member of the last Penn State team to make the NCAA Tournament in 2011. Penn State lost on a heroic last second shot to Temple. Frazier defended that miracle shot well but gave room for Temple shooter Juan Fernandez to get a shoot up to the left.

NBA scouts overlooked him but the Philadelphia 76ers reached out to the minuscule, slender guard immediately upon the end of the draft. His summer involved working out for a host of NBA teams. The Sixers gave him an opportunity to play for them in the summer league which lasted for five games. One Sixers assistant coach gave praise about his poise and experience.

The next step for Frazier was on September 29 when the Boston Celtics signed him to a non-guaranteed training camp deal. Frazier played in a few preseason games with the Celtics before he was waived about a month later. Less than a week later, he was acquired by the Maine Red Claws as an affiliate player. Frazier opened his season in the D-League by contributing 18 points, 9 assists, and 4 rebounds.

His performance in the D-League led to the Sixers giving him a chance. The Sixers as of last year have been reaching out to many former D-League players as they look to rebuild and find an identity with their young core of players.

A story similar to Frazier’s involved New York Knicks player Langston Galloway. Galloway, a 2014 undrafted rookie from Saint Joseph’s also received a 10-day contract at first. Galloway’s play earned him a two-year deal (partially guaranteed) with the Knicks. If Frazier can continue to improve and perform past expectations he could find himself having a similar D-League success story as Galloway’s.

In the latest news, Frazier is expected to start at point guard against Charlotte Saturday, according to CBSSports.com. Maybe the starting opportunity will allow for Frazier to rise to the occasion which he frequently did in his career as a Penn State basketball player.