He may not have been drafted, but former Tennessee basketball forward Yves Pons was always going to have a shot at the NBA given his athleticism. Well, in his first NBA Summer League game, Pons was already putting on a show.
The 6’6″ 215-pound wing who won SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2020 signed as an undrafted free agent with the Memphis Grizzlies. They are playing in the Salt Lake City Summer League and beat the Utah Jazz Blue Team 104-65 Tuesday.
In that game, Pons came away with multiple highlights. It started just after the two-minute mark in the first quarter. Ahmad Carver threw Pons an alley-oop from the three-point line, which he threw down to increase Memphis’ lead to 26-9.
Pons continued with his success in the second quarter. As Memphis held a 48-22 lead in the second, Jarell Martin went up for a shot under the basket. Romeo Weems switched on him and came away with a block. However, Martin got the ball back and went up for a shot. That’s when Pons came in and reminded us all how elite of a defender he is.
Then came the fourth quarter. With just under seven minutes to go, Pons caught another alley-oop from Weems on a fast break and threw it down again. That gave Memphis an 89-52 lead and helped increase the recognition for Pons.
Talk about an epic start to the NBA Summer League for an undrafted free agent. Pons finished with 12 points, going 5-of-7 shooting from the field and hitting both three-point attempts. He also had two blocks.
Sure, it was just a summer league game. In fact, it’s not even the real summer league. This is just a pre-summer league that involves Memphis, two Utah teams and the San Antonio Spurs. However, Pons’ play still stood out, and he’s probably going to do a lot more of that over the next month.
Sunday, Aug. 8 marks the start of the official NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. Pons is one of seven former Vols who will be taking part in that, but as of right now, he has made the strongest early impression.