Ra’Shad James calls it “the journey.”
James, 26, starred at White Plains High School before trekking to Division II St. Thomas Aquinas College in Rockland County, followed by a year at Iona College, basketball hotbeds South Korea and Poland, and Reno and Westchester in the NBA Development League.
Undrafted in 2013, James’ latest stop was the Milwaukee Bucks’ NBA Summer League team in Las Vegas, where he averaged 14.2 points in five games.
“I’ve come to grips with understanding the politics about how basketball works,” James said from Las Vegas. “And I don’t let it get to me. I’ve matured in that aspect.”
A superior athlete and scorer, James is 6-1 and a rugged 195 pounds. Two years ago, he averaged 20.7 points for Reno only to wind up overseas last season. The Westchester Knicks signed him late last year when Jimmer Fredette signed a 10-day contract with the New York Knicks, but Fredette’s quick return limited James’ playing time.
For many in James’ basketball shoes, timing is crucial.
“I feel like whenever I’ve been in a position to be on a higher level, I’ve handled myself well, and I’ve performed at a high level,” said James, who averaged 16.4 points in 15 games with Westchester. He shot 50.3% from the field and 36.8% on 3s.
“So I wouldn’t say my journey has slowed me up. It’s just taken that right person to see me, to be able to be like, ‘Hey, here are the keys to the car.’ ”
Among 40 players at the D-League’s Elite Mini Camp in Chicago last May, James displayed the highest vertical jump at 41 1⁄2 inches. He delivers both crowd-pleasing dunks and perimeter shooting, unique for a guard his size. Yet James knows his physical stature likely means playing point guard to make the NBA.
Last season brought encouragement from Westchester general manager Allan Houston.
“He basically was just telling me to do what I do,” said James. “At this point in my career, there’s not much that I can change. From somebody that’s been in the league and been through it all, that gave me confidence to stick with it.
“Right now it’s all tunnel vision. I’m not thinking about anything else. There is no Plan B.”
The journey continues.
“My time will come,” James said. “And I know it’s coming.”