Three Former Pirates Set Sail in The G League Bubble

While the NBA season is well underway, the association’s player development-focused companion G League began its season this past week and the Seton Hall faithful are surely thrilled to see three familiar faces inhabiting Orlando, Fla.

Following a star-studded college career that included accolades such as the 2020 Jerry West Award and Seton Hall’s first NCAA consensus first-team All-American since 1953, Myles Powell was beside himself after not hearing his name called during the 2020 NBA Draft. Yet ironically enough, that marked the beginning of Powell’s professional basketball career.

A day after drafting Dayton’s Obi Toppin, the 2020 Naismith College Player of the Year and a friend whom Powell worked out with during the offseason, Seton Hall’s all-time three-point leader signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the New York Knicks. The contract gave Powell an opportunity to earn a roster spot with the team who calls Madison Square Garden home, an arena Powell is very familiar with.

But after appearing in just one preseason game, Powell’s future with the Knicks encountered a road block. The Trenton native was cut from the roster and assigned to New York’s G League affiliate team, the Westchester Knicks. Westchester opened their season on Feb. 10 against the Indiana Pacers G League affiliate team, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, a team who ironically enough rosters another former Pirates guard, Quincy McKnight.

McKnight, who started alongside Powell in Seton Hall’s backcourt during their junior and senior seasons, was brought onto the Mad Ants after a strong finish to his collegiate career. The former Sacred Heart transfer averaged 11.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game his senior season and his playmaking and lockdown defensive abilities were very complementary to Powell’s scoring prowess.

Unfortunately for Seton Hall fans, the Pirates-centric matchup between the two guards did not live up to its billing. McKnight, being the most unproven of the pro-Pirates, played zero minutes. Powell, on the other hand, played well during his G League debut. Sporting his blue Under Armour sneakers, Powell recorded 16 points and 4 rebounds off Westchester’s bench as the Knicks defeated the Mad Ants 125-120 in regulation. 

Powell followed that with a 22-point, 9-assist and 2-steal performance Thursday afternoon against the Greensboro Swarm. Being one of the biggest names to go undrafted in 2020, Powell wants to prove the doubters wrong and find success at the next level. His goal is likely to become the second former Pirate in three years to win the G League Rookie of the Year award, after Angel Delgado did so for the Agua Caliente Clippers during the 2018-19 season.

That said, Powell and McKnight are not the only former Seton Hall Pirates participating in the 2020-21 G League season, as Romaro Gill, the 2020 Big East Most Improved Player and Defensive Player of the Year, is a member of the Salt Lake City Stars, the Utah Jazz’s G League affiliate team.

In Gill’s first game against the Erie Bayhawks, the 7-foot-2-inch center totaled four points and two rebounds during Salt Lake’s 117-98 loss. Gill did foul out of his first game and nearly did so again in his second, but his brand of hard-nosed defense can leave him susceptible to such in-game scenarios. It will likely take some adjusting to the professional game.

18 teams were invited to the 2021 NBA G League Bubble and there are 135 regular season games on the docket. Not only that, the top-8 teams qualify for a single-elimination playoff round.

As many college basketball fans know, both the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments were cancelled in 2020 because of concerns of the spreading coronavirus.

The cancellation left an especially sour taste in the mouths of those within the Seton Hall program after the Pirates put together one of their best seasons in school history, ranking as high as eighth in the AP Poll during the regular season. The G League Bubble playoffs could provide a tournament-like experience for Powell, McKnight and Gill, potentially fulfilling their desire to play in The Big Dance one final time.

But regardless, the professional careers of these former Pirates have officially begun, and Seton Hall fans are surely to follow their adventurous journey from this point on.