By Asher Feltman
At age 23, Brandon Ashley has played a lot of basketball. Not just basketball, high-level basketball. On some of the biggest courts under the brightest lights. The San Francisco native does a lot of winning. His senior year in high school, he led his Findlay Prep (Nevada) squad to a 32-1 record and an ESPN National High School Invitational championship.
His next step was college ball. But where? Turns out choosing the Arizona Wildcats was an easy one for him. “I felt like they were there throughout my entire process. They were one of the first bigger schools to recruit me. Actually on my visit, Coach (Sean) Miller handed me a deck of cards. In the deck was essentially every date that he came to watch me play. Every event, every city that he came. The deck was so large, just going through it there were so many games he was there. It wasn’t just when an Arizona coach was there but when Coach Miller, he was there at my games watching me.”
His track record of winning carried into his college career. In his sophomore season, the Wildcats began 21-0, going through each and every opponent to great success. All that winning must put a target on one’s back, right? “I’d say it’s a little bit of pressure but I feel like it’s a good pressure. You want to continue to have the streak going. It’s a really fun time during your career because you know your team is playing at such a high level and you feel as if there’s no one out there that can beat us. You know you’re gonna get your opponent’s best shot.”
After his junior year, he went pro. Ashley played with the Atlanta Hawks in the 2015 Summer League but would sign on for training camp with the Mavericks. After appearing in seven preseason games, he made his professional debut with the Texas Legends.
With the Legends, the 6-foot-9 forward posted 14.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and was named to the G League All-Star team as a rookie. “It was definitely a good experience,” he remembers. “I learned a lot. At the time, Nick Van Exel was the coach so to learn from a guy like that who played the game and had a pretty darn good career, it was nice to learn from him. I had a really good team and we had fun. I was pretty upset when I had to leave but at the time I felt that was the best opportunity.”
After spending a year abroad with the esteemed Alba Berlin club, Ashley is back stateside and also back with the Mavs organization. He joined the club for summer ball and played a pair of games for the championship-winning Orlando squad, averaging 8.5 points and 5.5 rebounds.
“It definitely does wonders for your confidence,” he says on the Mavericks securing his return. “To know that an organization like this one has confidence in me and my game and liked what they saw. It’s a good feeling to have them believe in me.”
He departed Orlando a tad early to prepare for the Las Vegas circuit, again with the Mavericks and this time in six games. In an even 20 minutes per contest, he averaged 11.5 points, highlighted by a 21-point display on July 8th.
Like any great talent and fierce competitor, Ashley is his own biggest critic and thought he could have done a little more. “Honestly, I don’t feel as if I did all that well. In spurts I played well. The first game in Vegas I had a pretty good game but overall I think I could have played much better.”
He cites fiscal reasons above all else for his stay in Germany, but his primary goal is to make the NBA. On where this season takes him, we’ll just have to stay tuned. “I think it would be situational for me. I definitely feel like I’m an NBA player, that I have the talent and wherewithal to play in the league. I just wanted to give myself a chance again and I feel like right now is a really good opportunity to do so.”
Back in 2014, Ashley and some of his Arizona teammates graced the cover of the November Sports Illustrated magazine. Honored to be a part of it, he credits the photographer for making the process a fun one. “He made the experience a thousand times better. He was so fun-loving and made the process so easy.”
Ashley tries to fetch the name, to which I did some research and now we can all give one big shout out to photographer John W. McDonough. It’s a little detail, but Brandon Ashley is all over these details. As he tries to make an NBA roster, he’s intent on showing what he can do best by simply being…well…Brandon Ashley.
“Just be me. There are people, when they go through Summer League or mini-camp or training process, they try to do things that don’t really fit their game. Try to step outside the box and show they can do things that they’re not necessarily comfortable with. The thing I want to do is show the talent level I have and showcase the things that I do well.”