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Melvin Ejim to sign in Italy with Virtus Roma

Melvin Ejim, last season’s Big-12 Player of the Year, is signing in Italy, according to his own Twitter account.

There is no report on how much money the Italian club guaranteed Ejim or the potential length of the deal. As with most of these kinds of deals, I would assume that it will, at the very least, have an out to return to the NBA if something changes next season.

Ejim played for the San Antonio Spurs during the Las Vegas Summer League. He played in all six games that they played, but only averaged about eight minutes per contest, scoring 3.5 points. Prior to summer league, Ejim was a member of the Iowa State Cyclones. He will be the first Big 12 Player of the Year since 1999 to not play in the NBA immediately after declaring for the draft, and was the first ever Big-12 POY to not be drafted. 

It’s not particularly a surprise that Ejim went undrafted. He’s a 6’6 power forward that isn’t an elite athlete. There is solid athleticism there though, especially when going towards the rim. The biggest problem he’ll face though is transitioning to the 3. His outside shot is solid, but he doesn’t have great ball skills right now. Most of the value still revolves around his relentless energy. That’s okay when it comes to crashing the boards, but he’ll need to improve his lateral agility on the perimeter. He’s always been a willing defender so that’s good, but he will probably struggle a bit to stay in front of quicker players at this point, partially due to consistent inexperience there.

He’s long and strong though, so maybe with some time away in Europe he can come back and make his mark through hard work and consistent three-point shooting. The model is there for him in another former Big-12 Player of the Year, P.J. Tucker. Tucker had to go over to Europe and iron out his perimeter skills for a few years before retuning to the NBA and becoming an excellent role player for the Suns. That path is entirely possible for Ejim, and it wouldn’t surprise me if we saw him back in the NBA in a couple of years.

Sam Vecenie

Sam Vecenie is the editor-in-chief of Upside & Motor, as well as an editor at Hardwood Paroxysm. He likes to spend endless hours watching random NCAA game film, and scouring the internet for international basketball. You can find his other work at SBNation's college basketball platform.