For three years at the University of Florida, Michael Frazier was arguably the SEC’s most dangerous man from behind the 3-point line.
As a sophomore, he set a school record with 118 triples, which ranked fifth in the nation. Despite missing six games the following season, he nonetheless led the Gators with 57 3’s and 12.1 points per game.
Now joining the D-Fenders in the fast-paced D-League, head coach Casey Owens relishes having such a space-provider at his disposal.
“He’s another dynamic weapon that you have to pay attention to,” Owens said. “He draws the defense away from the basket, which creates driving opportunities for guys like Manny (Harris) and Vander (Blue) and ducking opportunities for bigs like (Robert) Upshaw.”
After spending training camp with the Lakers together, Frazier and Upshaw are looking to attract some eyes in the D-League.
The 3-point specialist and 7-foot behemoth anticipate that their connection formed with the Lakers could bleed into their time with the D-Fenders.
“I think we can definitely be a one-two punch in this league and really play off each other,” Frazier said. “He’s a great big with great shot-blocking potential. Everybody knows he can do that. He also has good mid-range game, touch around the basket — things like that.”
Meanwhile, Frazier can do more than just shoot. In 2014, he led the SEC with 2.7 defensive win shares — a good sign for Owens, who has been calling for improvement in a defense that allowed 121.0 points per contest last season.
Frazier says that his time with the Lakers also taught him how important it is to say locked in on that side of the ball.
“The mental focus of the game at this level is something not to be taken lightly,” Frazier said. “No matter how your body feels, you’ve got to be focused.”
Focus is something that his most famous training-camp teammate, Kobe Bryant, exhibited in the pair’s time together.
“He talked to me a little bit, but I just tried to pick up everything he was doing, like his mannerisms,” Frazier said. “When he did talk to me, I listened, obviously. I tried to pick up any little thing he said.”
Like most D-Leaguers, Frazier is hoping that a strong showing will lead to an NBA call-up. He says that the D-Fenders “were definitely at the top of my list” after being waived by the Lakers, and his new coach aims to put him in the right situation to get back there.
“I have high hopes for his career, not just with us,” Owens said. “I think he’s got a real shot to make it in the NBA. This is going to be the beginning of his path.”