Frazier Finishes 2017-18 Season in Europe; Dominates Italian Serie A2 Basket
J.J. Frazier finished his first professional season with vigor in the United States with the Memphis Hustle. However, he wasn't done overseas. After spending the first three or four months of his pro career with JDA Dijon Basket in France's LNB Pro A, the highest league in the country, Frazier followed up his time in Memphis with a dominant run in Italy's Serie A2 Basket for Blu Basket Gruppo Remer Treviglio.
"It was tiring, a lot of jet lag," Frazier joked about his travels. "I told my agent the other day, nobody can say I didn't grind this year. I learned a lot from each place that I went. It helped me be a better ball player for sure, but also a better person. Understanding patience, timing. Everything happens for a reason. I think my first year was a success and I learned a lot."
Clearly the jet lag was only a minor complication. In eight games with Treviglio, Frazier averaged 24.1 points, 4.4 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.38 steals in 32.5 minutes per game, including a 32-point performance against Latina Basket on April 8.
"I think the people in Treviglio, the organization of Blu Basket Gruppo Remer Treviglio really accepted me and let me be who I was," said Frazier. "They didn't try to tame me as far as what kind of player I was. They knew what kind of energy I brought and what kind of player I am. They let me excel and that really opened a lot of eyes for next year, seeing what I can do on both ends of the floor. I really am grateful and appreciative for Treviglio."
Frazier had plenty of praise for how his time with the Hustle set him up for success in Italy.
"Especially going to Memphis and learning from (Hustle assistant coach) Sean (Dockery) and Marquis Teague," said Frazier. "I think with Coach Cyp (Hustle Head Coach Glynn Cyprien), I really understood the game going to Italy. I think that's why I played so well and understood and did what I was supposed to do and was efficient doing it. I think my first year was a success."
The Georgia product was particularly grateful for the opportunity to work with former NBA point guard and NBA G League veteran Marquis Teague, who later became the first GATORADE Call-Up in Hustle franchise history when he signed a 10-day contract with the Grizzlies on March 24.
"I was talking to Sean Dockery the other day and said at this point, I don't know if there was another guard I went up against better than Marquis Teague," said Frazier. "I had to go against him every day in practice. I learned from him and he helped me out. That was the biggest thing that I took from Memphis."
It was new territory for Frazier, who had always been the guy in each of his previous stops.
"It was the first time in my life I learned from someone that was ahead of me," Frazier explained. "I had always been the guy that was ahead of somebody else. The fact that Marquis helped me and took me under his wing during the short time I was there, that was the best thing that happened to me in going to Memphis."
As expected, it was a slow start in Memphis for Frazier, but he scored in double figures in five of his final eight games. In the team's home finale against the South Bay Lakers on March 23, he started and put up 23 points and seven rebounds. The next night in the team's final game of the season against the Texas Legends, he finished one rebound shy of a triple-double (14 points, 10 assists).
"At that point, it just became confidence," said Frazier. "The four or five games leading up to those last two, I was playing really well with the minutes I was given. Coach Cyp told me to just keep grinding and keep working because he knew what I was doing but at the same time I wasn't there the whole year. There were guys ahead of me, but when my number was called, I just wanted to go out there and play as hard as I could and do whatever I can to help us win and put us in the best position to win. The last two games, by that point, I was in a rhythm, my confidence was high, I was confident in what I was doing, I understood the playbook, I understood the game plan."
Frazier's year two plans remain to be seen, but the Hustle will hold his returning player rights should he elect to sign a contract with the NBA G League. Regardless of his destination, that team's fans can plan on seeing a significant jump in his second season as a pro.
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