|Posted by Brian Dickmann on February 15, 2017 at 2:55 PM|
Photo: John L. Alexander / Getty Images
Former Green Bay forward Alfonzo McKinnie is having a breakout season in his first year in the NBA D-League.
The 6’8” Chicago native is starring for his hometown Windy City Bulls, the D-League affiliate of Chicago’s NBA team, and on Tuesday was added to the roster for the league’s all-star game being played this weekend in New Orleans.
His journey to this point has been remarkable.
Lightly recruited out of high school, McKinnie played two seasons with the Phoenix in 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 after transferring in from Eastern Illinois. However, knee injuries plagued his time in Green Bay and he appeared in just 9 games as a junior due to a torn meniscus.
He became a steady contributor during his senior season averaging 8.0 points and 5.3 rebounds in 21.6 minutes per game. He appeared in all 33 of the Phoenix games that year, including 20 starts.
Fully healthy, McKinnie played professionally his first season out of college for the East Side Pirates, a division II team in Luxembourg. He was the only professional player on the roster and dominated the league averaging 26 points and 16 rebounds in his only season in Europe.
He returned to the Western Hemisphere and joined Rayos de Hermosillo in Mexico following his time across the pond and was a standout there as well, averaging 15.4 points and 7.3 rebounds in just under 27 minutes per game in 25 games south of the border.
Things really began to change this past summer. McKinnie was a member of 4-player team that won USA Basketball’s 3-on-3 national championship and qualified for the World Championships in China. Then, after not receiving a training camp invite, he was one of 200 players to attend an open tryout to try and make the Windy City Bulls roster – something he was able to do and hasn’t looked back since.
“I look at the D-league as an upgrade from where I was last year,” McKinnie said in an interview on the team’s website. “Being to play in the D-League and produce a little bit, you never know who is watching. I feel I’ve gotten better and helped the team and we have a long season to go and feel I can get better.”
After coming off the bench to start the season, McKinnie has risen to a prominent role for the Bulls.
He has started 15 of the team’s 31 games and is averaging 15.1 points per game and an impressive 9.2 rebounds per game, good for 5th in the league, in 29.1 minutes per game.
His impressive season to this point as well as his all-star status might mean an NBA call-up could be around the corner, though he will likely need to improve on his 31.4% three point shooting as he projects to be more of a stretch four at the NBA level.
One thing is for sure – he definitely boasts NBA-type athleticism, something that will be on display when he competes in the D-League’s dunk contest on Saturday at the Superdome in New Orleans. His college teammate, Keifer Sykes, participated in the D-League dunk contest last season in Toronto.
Another one of McKinnie’s former college teammates is a current teammate with the Windy City Bulls, 7’1” big man Alec Brown. He’s averaging 9.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game this season. The Bulls are 14-17 at the all-star break.
Other former Green Bay players playing professionally include Rahmon Fletcher (Newcastle Eagles, Great Britain), Bryquis Perine (BC Rakvere Tarvas, Estonia), Greg Mays (Rotterdam Challengers, The Netherlands), Keifer Sykes (Anyang KGC, South Korea), Carrington Love (Kirchheim Knights, Germany), and Jordan Fouse (Étoile de Charleville-Mézières, France).
NBA D-League All-Star game rosters
Player (Team) Pos. Ht. Wt. Birthdate College/Country
Anthony Brown (Erie) G 6-7 211 10/10/1992 Stanford/USA
Quinn Cook (Canton) G 6-2 179 3/23/1993 Duke/USA
Jordan Crawford (Grand Rapids) G 6-5 195 10/23/1988 Xavier/USA
Marcus Georges-Hunt (Maine)* F 6-6 220 3/28/1994 Georgia Tech/USA
Jalen Jones (Maine) F 6-7 220 5/27/1993 Texas A&M/USA
Shawn Long (Delaware) C 6-9 248 1/29/1993 Louisiana-Lafayette/USA
Alfonzo McKinnie (Windy City) F 6-8 215 9/17/1992 Wis.-Green Bay/USA
Eric Moreland (Canton) F 6-10 249 12/24/1991 Oregon State/USA
Abdel Nader (Maine) F 6-8 225 9/25/1993 Iowa State/Egypt
Alex Poythress (Fort Wayne) F 6-7 235 9/6/1993 Kentucky/USA
Edy Tavares (Raptors 905) C 7-2 260 3/22/1992 Cape Verde
Axel Toupane (Raptors 905) G 6-7 210 7/23/1992 France
Head Coach: Jerry Stackhouse (Raptors 905)
Player (Team) Pos. Ht. Wt. Birthdate College/Country
Keith Benson (Sioux Falls) C 6-11 235 8/13/1988 Oakland/USA
Vander Blue (Los Angeles) G 6-4 200 7/17/1992 Marquette/USA
Dennis Clifford (Santa Cruz) C 7-1 260 2/29/1992 Boston College/USA
Justin Harper (Los Angeles) F 6-10 225 8/30/1989 Richmond/USA
Cory Jefferson (Austin) F 6-9 218 12/26/1990 Baylor/USA
Dakari Johnson (Oklahoma City) C 7-0 255 9/22/1995 Kentucky/USA
Josh Magette (Los Angeles) G 6-1 160 11/28/1989 Alabama-Huntsville/USA
Johnny O'Bryant III (Northern Arizona)* F 6-9 257 6/1/1993 Louisiana State/USA
JaKarr Sampson (Iowa) F 6-9 207 3/20/1993 St. John's/USA
Briante Weber (Sioux Falls)* G 6-2 165 12/29/1992 Va. Commonwealth/USA
Okaro White (Sioux Falls) * F 6-8 215 8/13/1992 Florida State/USA
Reggie Williams (Oklahoma City) F 6-6 210 9/14/1986 Virginia Military/USA
Head Coach: Coby Karl (Los Angeles)