By Justin Prince
Note: This story was originally published on NBLCentral.
Leon Sutton found out he was drafted first overall like everyone else – through social media.
The six-foot-one point guard had been back in his hometown of Las Vegas after competing at the 2016 National Basketball League of Canada Draft Combine in Mono, Ont.
“I was on Twitter, just seeing what was going on with my friends back home, and there I was. It was crazy,” said Sutton in an interview with NBLC writer Brian Swane.
Sutton, who played collegiately at the University of Great Falls in Montana, had appeared in seven games in the NBA Development League last season. In those appearances with the Idaho Stampede, he had scored 3.4 points per game and had 2.1 assists per game. He also started once for the Utah Jazz affiliate.
Sutton told Swane he had heard about the league after speaking with childhood friend and Halifax Hurricanes power forward Billy White. He has only been in Canada one previous time when he played against the Raptors 905 in Mississauga.
The Miracles, who traded for the first and 11th overall picks from the Kitchener-Waterloo Titans for James Justice last month, made Sutton their top choice after seeing him in past combines.
“I saw him play a couple times this summer and was very interested,” said Miracles head coach Paul Mokeski on Monday. “He’s a great kid and a good player who creates opportunities for himself on offense and others. He’s a guy who will do whatever it takes to win, whether it’s scoring or passing or playing defense.”
The Miracles also selected forward Dominique Reed in the second round. Reed, a 25-year-old forward, had been the 2015-16 Conference Carolinas Men's Basketball Defensive Player of the Year. He was ranked second in the NCAA Division II conference in blocks (50) and 12th in the nation in field goal percentage (61.3 per cent) last season.
Mokeski said he was excited to have both players on the team.
“He’s very athletic in the Raleigh, N.C. combine last summer,” said Mokeski, referring to Reed. “He works very hard and is a very smart player. He’s another player we’re happy to have on board that gives us a lot of resilience.”
Mokeski explained he looked for players who could specifically play in his coaching system throughout the offseason. The Miracles have signed 18 players for its training camp next month. Some of them include former NBA D-League player Scoop Jardine and big man Tim Mitchell.
Many of those athletes can play multiple positions on the floor, giving Mokeski “a lot of versatility” for his lineups.
He said he expects to have a competitive camp this year.
“My structure this offseason was finding guys who can do my system and play basketball the way it should be played,” said Mokeski. “There’s going to be good battles going on and there’s going to be some very difficult decisions for myself and my staff on who to keep and who to let go.”
As for Sutton, he hopes to bring excitement onto the court.
“They (the fans) can expect a person that loves this game, that plays with passion, that will have a lot of fun,” said Sutton.
The Miracles will start their regular season Dec. 26 against the Hurricanes.