This past weekend HoopsHabit was welcomed to cover the Seattle Pro-Am and during the melee of Kobe Bryant coming, Isaiah Thomas scoring 59 points and Jamal Crawford finishing the weekend with a 63-point marquee performance, I was able to catch up with Portland Trail Blazers summer league attendee Matthew Bryan-Amaning.
Bryan-Amaning, or “MBA” as he’s known around Seattle, played four seasons at the University of Washington and really catapulted himself into professional basketball contention with his senior season where he averaged 15.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. MBA took home several awards that season including the Pac-12 Most Improved Player of the Year and he earned a spot on the All-Pac-12 First Team.
Since then MBA has played in Turkey (2011/12), Serbia (2012/13) and he split last season between three teams; two in France and one in England. All in all last year he played in 30 games professionally, starting 10 of those, and though he only received 22.8 minutes a game he was still quite productive — he averaged 12.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per contest.
On this day, however, he was home in Seattle for some good ole entertainment for the fans and community of Seattle. He had a great matchup versus fellow University of Washington alum Spencer Hawes and he was gracious enough to talk with HoopsHabit after the game about a multitude of topics.
HoopsHabit: So, you just got done playing with the Portland Trail Blazers’ in the Las Vegas Summer League — how was that experience for you?
Bryan-Amaning: It was exciting. I’m always trying to get an opportunity to play in the NBA and this was a good experience. Unfortunately they did have a lot of guys under contract so the bulk of the minutes went to those guys and the free agents just kinda fit in where we could. So, we got five minutes here, five minutes there and what not, so obviously not the best situation I was hoping for but every opportunity is good to try to impress.
HH: Were you able to gain anything from the practices with Portland?
MBA: Yeah we went up to Portland about three or four days before [summer league] and we got to work out at their practice facility. It was a good experience. It went very well for the free agent guys I believe. We all knew when we went to camp that they were going to have a lot of their guys play, so they brought the free agents in to play against those guys and we played pretty well against them. Had a few days where we beat them in the games, so I just think it speaks to our experience and always playing against NBA caliber players is great and it’s a way for me to get better.
HH: What are your plans for next season? Do you know where you will be playing yet?
MBA: Don’t know yet where I will be playing but there are a few options overseas — Spain, Turkey, Lithuania…all over Europe and I’m just hopefully trying to get a call and make a [NBA] training camp. If I can make a training camp, then there’s always an option there so really right now it’s just a waiting game. We’ll see what teams want to do and if it gets too late then there are always those options overseas.
HH: So the first option for you would be the NBA?
MBA: Yeah definitely it’s my dream, just like every basketball players’ dream to play in the league. Now that I’ve been a pro for three years teams know what I can do, what I can’t do, they know what they like and what they dislike so again it’s just a waiting game. But the NBA has always been a dream of mine so hopefully I get that call.
HH: Have you ever given any thought to staying stateside and playing in the NBA D-League and hoping for a call-up to the NBA that way?
MBA: The D-League is a very tough, tough situation. I have family back home in London so money wise it would be very, very difficult. If it was a different situation then maybe but with the way my life is set up right now it’s a tough situation to play in the D-League and hope for a call-up, whereas if I don’t get a call-up then it’s a wasted year money wise and I have to look out for my family.
HH: Do the overseas contracts have out-clauses if an NBA team comes calling mid-season?
MBA: Yeah they have out-clauses for guys like myself who are on the cusp and will get calls for summer league every year; you can always ask for an “NBA-out” in your deal. They might have a buyout but the range shouldn’t be that bad, so if an NBA team really wants you they can pay that.
HH: How much fun was it today playing against fellow University of Washington alum Spencer Hawes?
MBA: [Big smile] Good man, like I said it’s always fun to play against NBA guys, high-caliber guys. We were just joking around on the court to be honest, I was congratulating him on his recent signing with the Clippers, so it was all good. I haven’t played against him for a couple of years now and it was good to come out and be competitive. We both played hard, it was high scoring — you know how it is down here, so it was just good to come out, have fun, and put on a show for the fans.
HH: You guys both had pretty high scoring games [Hawes had 47 points] but they were pretty quiet to be honest, I looked at the box and didn’t even realize you had 37 points. I asked Spencer about it after the game and he said he was playing the “Adam Morrison school of defense.”
MBA: [Laughs] Yeah, yeah. I told him after the game he kept going for all my pump fakes. I don’t know what changed in his game but all of a sudden he thought he was a shot-blocker so I had him all over the place out there.
HH: I really appreciate you taking the time — good luck next season Matthew.
[Matthew Bryan-Amaning was on the Portland Trail Blazers' summer league team in Las Vegas but as he alluded to, he didn't get much of an opportunity to get on the court once there. He appeared in four games, playing a total of 16 minutes]