The Pistons' first round draft pick, Sekou Doumbouya, talks about his life and his game during his introductory press conference. Daniel Mears, The Detroit News
Michigan State didn’t have a player taken in the NBA Draft on Thursday night, but it didn’t take long for a couple of former Spartans to catch on at the next level.
Matt McQuaid signed a summer-league deal with the Detroit Pistons while Nick Ward agreed to a similar deal with the Atlanta Hawks, sources told The News on Friday.
The sources requested anonymity because they were not authorized to comment on the deals.
In other MSU news, Kenny Goins signed to play with the Denver Nuggets in the Summer League, his representatives confirmed on Twitter on Saturday.
The 6-foot-5 McQuaid worked out with the Pistons before the draft and talked about using the same mentality he did in college as moves into his career as a pro.
“It’s just keeping that underdog mentality — kind of the edge at Michigan State that you kind of play with and you learn when you go there,” McQuaid said. “Just being tough and doing the little things and paying attention to detail.”
McQuaid came to Michigan State from the Dallas area with a reputation as a shooter. He was consistently one of the Spartans’ best 3-pointer shooters — he made 42.2% of his triples as a senior — but also turned himself as a top-end defender, helping the Spartans reach this season’s Final Four.
Ward (6-9, 245) also went undrafted after a junior season that was slowed by a broken hand, keeping Ward out of the lineup for the final five games of the regular season. After serving in a reserve role in the postseason, Ward opted to forgo his final season of eligibility and head to the NBA.
He was an All-Big Ten third-team selection by the coaches and the media as a junior and finished third on the team in scoring and rebounding with 12.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. In 104 career games, Ward scored 1,359 points, a 13.1 per game average, which ranks No. 26 all-time at Michigan State.
Ward also worked out with the Pistons and said he was out to prove he belonged in the NBA.
“I can do a lot more than people see,” Ward said. “I can put the ball on the ground, I can shoot mid-rangers, even spot-up 3's. Even though I didn’t show it much, I can do it. I feel like my game will translate well in the NBA. I can switch on guards, I can get my shot off against anybody. I feel like I can hold my own."
The Pistons, Hawks and Nuggets will play in the Summer League in Las Vegas that begins on July 5 and runs through July 15.