Amir Coffey got one step closer to making his dream of playing in the NBA come true.
The former Gophers guard officially signed a two-way contract with the Los Angeles Clippers, the team's President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank announced Tuesday night.
Coffey went undrafted in June after leaving the Gophers a year early, but the 6-foot-8 guard found an organization that really believed in his talent to play at the next level.
"Just because you go undrafted doesn't mean it won't work out," Coffey told the Star Tribune before going to Vegas. "I know a big story in the past year was (former Wichita State and current Toronto Raptors guard) Fred VanVleet. He was a guy who went undrafted and look at him now. It's a different journey for everybody."
Under a two-way contract, a concept the NBA introduced in 2017, a player typically spends most of the season in the developmental G League but can spend a maximum of 45 days on the active roster of his NBA team.
In his Clippers debut Saturday, Coffey turned heads with 17 points, five rebounds, four assists and a steal in a win against the Los Angeles Lakers. In a second start Sunday, Coffey had 10 points, three rebounds and an assist in 27 minutes against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Clippers summer league coach Brian Adams talked this week about Coffey’s potential to be an NBA player.
“When you first see him, he’s really long and he’s got a way about handling," said Adams, who also is the head coach of the Agua Caliente/Clippers G League team. "He sees himself kind of as a point guard as well. He told me his favorite player is Shaun Livingston. And you can kind of see that a little. You know just the way he gets downhill, but he goes at such a pace ... You know his shot’s going to develop. He’s a relentless worker. Another thing him and (second-round pick) Terance (Mann) are even spirits. Nothing fazes them. I think right now he’s an NBA player on a stop just pushing it up. I mean I think he showed (Saturday) that he’s really capable. It’s definitely something that will be fun to watch going forward.”
Last season as a junior, Coffey led the Gophers with 16.6 points and 3.2 assists in 35.2 minutes to earn All-Big Ten third team honors for a 22-win NCAA tournament team. Coffey said deciding to forgo his senior season was an "easy" decision, but the hard part was preparing for the next step.
Following the Gophers season, Coffey declared for the draft and hired agent Javon Phillips with Excel Sports Managament. He trained in Westchester, N.Y., traveled to 11 different cities for NBA workouts and returned to Minneapolis to finish the spring semester.
"It was pretty tough, because it was a packed schedule," Coffey said. "But obviously I wanted to finish out the school year and pass all of my classes. When I do end up going back to school, I wanted to be on a good track. Juggling the schedules was about building time for me to get out to the different cities but keep my academics (a priority). It felt like another season right after I just finished. It was super busy, but I got through it."