Austin Spurs Open 17th Season on Friday with New and Familiar Faces Alike

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Photo via Twitter (@MattBabcock11).

The Austin Spurs 2021-2022 roster is set as the team returns for its 17th season. For the first time since 2019, San Antonio’s full set of rookies is set to start the season up I-35. Then, Keldon Johnson, Luka Samanic, and Quinndary Weatherspoon had the Spurs affiliate in playoff position to make a run for the G League title. They would play just one more game before the season was paused and later canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Devin Vassell did not spend any time with the Austin affiliate, breaking the organization’s trend of rookies starting their careers there.

Spurs Rookies Return to Austin Roots

Only Johnson remains from that 2019 class. Samanic is now on a two-way contract with the New York Knicks; Weatherspoon is on a G League contract with the Santa Cruz Warriors. As things return to normal, so too does the Spurs’ approach to player development. While 2020 first-round selection Devin Vassell won’t likely see time in Austin with a now solid role in San Antonio, 2021 rookies Joshua Primo and Joe Wieskamp look to open the season in the 5-1-2.

Primo understands this step in the process and seems prepared to embrace it. “So many guys have come through here and seen so much success,” he said to the media in his availability last week, “I think it’s only just helpful coming here [to Austin].”

Playing in two games at the Salt Lake City Summer League, Primo showed good instincts and ability, averaging 14 points in 25 minutes per game. He connected on 40-percent of shots from the field, and 23-percent from the perimeter. Wieskamp played all three games but had a different experience, averaging just five points per game with an awful eight-percent shooting mark from deep.

Familiar Faces Return This Year for Austin

Joining Primo and Wieskamp are Austin veterans Kaleb Johnson, Anthony Mathis, Jaylen Morris, and Nate Renfro. This combination of guards and forwards played with the Spurs in February’s G League Bubble in Orlando, Florida, and they all joined San Antonio in August’s NBA Summer League. More Austin experience for the roster came in the second round of the 2021 G League Draft with the selection of Alexis Wangmene. A former international standout at the University of Texas, Wangmene played on with the Austin Spurs in 2012-2013 and briefly in 2016-2017.

The “corporate knowledge” is already present on the roster but continues in the coaching staff despite the team introducing a new coach for the second time in two seasons. When last year’s coach Matt Nielsen got promoted to the San Antonio bench this season, the Spurs once again promoted an Austin assistant to take the helm, Petar Bozic.

New Names to Know On the 2021-2022 Austin Spurs

Barring any roster changes after training camp, there are still a number of new faces to join the aforementioned familiar ones. Five new guards were in camp with Austin: Jordan Burns, Damyean Dotson, Jayvon Graves, and Denzel Mahoney. Forward Aric Holman joins Renfro, Wangmere, and Johnson under G League contract, while Devontae Cacock joins Wieskamp as the two two-way contracts. Cacock spent the last two seasons in the Lakers organization.

Dotson and Cacock bring NBA experience to Austin, and Holman played with the Texas Legends a couple of years ago. Dotson has played with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the New York Knicks.  Burns, Mahoney, and Graves each will get their first taste of professional basketball at any level, playing last season in college.

For basketball fans in San Antonio, Burns’ name may sound familiar. Burns graduated from John Marshall High School in 2016, ranked the 45th prospect in Texas High School per his Max Preps.

How to Watch the Austin Spurs 2021-2022 Season Opener

The Austin Spurs will open the 2021-2022 season on the road in Edinburg, Texas against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, affiliate of the Houston Rockets. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. CST and will broadcast for free on NBAGLeague.com. Two-way contract player Daishen Nix of the Rockets / Vipers is back in the G League after spending last season with the Ignite straight out of high school. Former Mavericks’ second-round selection Tyler Bey and Anthony Lamb, who has played professionally with Houston, are two players to watch in the game.

On November 14, the Austin Spurs will return to the HEB Center at Cedar Park for the first time since March 2020 before the COVID 19 pandemic went rampant and canceled the rest of that G League season.

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