AMES — Curtis Stinson’s best chance to make his NBA dream come true is upon him.
The former Iowa State star leaves for Las Vegas Thursday as one of 10 players on the D-League’s select team in the NBA’s annual Summer League. Since leaving ISU in 2006 after his junior season, Stinson has played in Croatia, Greece and with a handful of NBADL teams, spending all of last season with the Iowa Energy.
The 6-3 guard averaged 16.1 points and 8.4 assists last year, numbers he hopes have put him on NBA teams’ radar.
“I’m confident,” Stinson said. “I feel like this was the best season I’ve had since I left Iowa State. I’m making progress and going in the right direction. All I want is an opportunity, a chance.”
At 26 years old, the miles on his body are adding up.
Stinson has done the Summer League thing before – with Golden State, New Jersey and the L.A. Clippers – but hasn’t gotten to stay with the big club.
One word describes how his game has evolved since his days inside Hilton Coliseum: maturity. The Energy reached the playoffs and had one of the NBADL’s best won-loss records.
“When you get to this level you have to understand the game a lot better. You have to be smart,” Stinson said. “Me as a point guard, I have to be smart. If I’m not, my team won’t win. That’s what happened this year. (Energy) Coach (Nick) Nurse gave me the opportunity to run the team and put the ball in my hands.”
The knock on Stinson has long been his outside shooting.
He shot 21.5 percent (17 of 79) on 3-pointers last season and was an average shooter from deep with the Cyclones. He’s going to have to make up for it in other areas and continue trying to improve his shot.
Starting Monday – when games begin for real – is when Stinson will have to be at his best in front of scouts and general manager-types.
“I’m just going to play. That’s all I can do,” he said. “You never know who is there watching. You have to show up at the right time.”
Stinson is living in Ames this summer, working out and spending time with his 2-year-old son, Curtis, Jr.
He spends as much time as possible with Curt Jr. during the summer. Playing in Des Moines allows the two to keep close much of the season, despite the long hours traveling, practicing and playing.
Stinson hasn’t ruled out a return overseas, but balancing career and family is difficult in his profession.
“I’ve got to put food on the table for my son and take care of him,” Stinson said. “I love playing this game. Financially it can take care of you for the rest of your life if you get in the right situation.”
“I want to be a father that is going to take care of him. It’s a good feeling. Everybody who has a child knows. I love him to death. My son is priority No. 1. I want to be close to him and be around as much as possible.”
Stinson is one of five former Cyclones playing in NBA summer leagues in Orlando, Fla., and Las Vegas.
Jared Homan (Pacers), Will Blalock (Pacers), Jiri Hubalek (Suns) and Mike Taylor (Clippers) are the others. Stinson is hoping to open some eyes over the next two weeks.
“Teams got to see me during the season,” he said, “now they’ll get to see me play against the guys they draft and the guys who really play. It’s a good situation.”