Former Gophers guard Akeem Springs is on the training camp roster for the Canton Charge, the NBA G League affiliate for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Springs was fully cleared by his doctors last week and he was signed after a local tryout in Ohio.
Eight months ago, the 6-foot-4 sharpshooter tore his Achilles in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinal win against Michigan State on March 10. Now he’s ready to pursue his dreams of playing basketball in the NBA.
As a senior last season for the Gophers, Springs averaged 9.5 points, started 14 games and led the team with 67 three-pointers. He transferred from Milwaukee-Wisconsin where he played two seasons.
The Charge begin their first official practice Tuesday at the Edgewood Community Center in Canton, Ohio. They play a three-way scrimmage against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants and Grand Rapids Drive Saturday in Auburn Hills, Mich.
This summer, Springs talked in a Q&A about how playing one season at Minnesota and in the Big Ten gave him even more confidence to play at the next level.
“For myself, I gained the knowledge that I can become whoever I want to become as a basketball player,” he told the Star Tribune. “I gained the knowledge that I have so many parts of my game I can use, especially going to the next level. It’s nice to have a jump shot and be a shooter. But I didn’t know looking back previous years. I have so much more to my game now. That was the biggest thing I got from playing here was exposure for sure. And I love the Gophers fans. Everywhere I go it seems like somebody knows me. It’s pretty cool.”
Gophers coach Richard Pitino found out how tough it was to play without Springs in the last two postseason games, losing to Michigan in the Big Ten tournament and Middle Tennessee in the NCAA tournament first round.
More than just Springs' three-point shooting, Minnesota missed his toughness and on-court leadership. Pitino expects that seniors Nate Mason and Reggie Lynch and junior Jordan Murphy will help replace Springs as a veteran leader this season.
"Akeem came in to a locker room that was very unconfident and instilled confidence just by his demeanor," Pitino said earlier this month. "We needed that at the time. I think Nate, Murph and Reggie, it will be different (now), because they’ve been there."
Other G league training camp players with Minnesota high school or college experience are as follows: former Creighton guard Isaiah Zierden (Deleware 87ers), former Fresno State forward Cullen Russo (Memphis Hustle), former South Dakota State star Nate Wolters (Salt Lake Stars), former Northern Iowa forward Marvin Singleton (Iowa Wolves), former Minnesota State-Mankato forward Jarvis Williams (Iowa Wolves) and former Gophers and Marquette wing Wally Ellenson (Oklahoma City Blue).