BRIGHTON, Mass. – The draft night call Brad Wanamaker had been longing for finally came eight years later.
Wanamaker, who turns 29 later this month, did not know for sure his dream of being in the NBA would come true until he got a call from the Celtics on draft night last month.
“Austin [Ainge, Boston’s director of player personnel] called me and said, ‘we got a spot for you,’” Wanamaker recalled.
And that is when the dream to play in the NBA seemed real for the first time in his life.
“Brad has had an amazing journey through the G-League and France, Italy, Germany where he was teammates with [current Celtic] Daniel Theis,” said Mike Zarren, Boston’s assistant general manager and team counsel. “He’s tough. He can guard multiple positions. He can shoot, he can handle...We’re real happy to have him.”
He’s happy to be here, even if it meant leaving some money on the table after signing a one-year deal with Boston worth $831,311.
A Philadelphia native who played AAU ball with current Celtic Marcus Morris, Wanamaker averaged 11.5 points, 3.5 assists and 2.2 rebounds for Fenerbahce Ulker in Euroleague play this past season.
But he was at his best in the postseason, leading Fenerbahce to a third consecutive title by averaging 16.2 points and 4.2 assists, which earned him Turkish League Finals Most Valuable Player.
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Coming off such a strong postseason run, Wanamaker was in line for a lucrative payday had he decided to stay overseas.
But the Celtics provided him with a shot at playing in the NBA, something that he had talked about with other teams in the past but never came to fruition.
The 6-foot-4 guard recalls the series of individual workouts with teams through the years, and the promises made that he was at the top of their wish list only to see those teams go in a different direction.
The Celtics made similar overtures to him, but it wasn’t until the former Pitt star got that call on draft night last month – eight years after going undrafted following four years at Pitt – that Wanamaker realized that those years of playing overseas as well as in the G-League, finally landed him on an NBA roster.
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“It’s a real feeling,” Wanamaker said. “Still taking it in as the days go on. I grinded my way to this point since I was a kid; it finally happened.”