Two former California Community College basketball players are currently playing professionally in the states. Former Santa Monica player David Nwaba recently signed a 10-day contract with the Los Angeles Lakers and Jaylen Bland, who played at College of the Canyons, is a member of the Sal Lake City Stars, D-League affiliate of the Utah Jazz. Here is a look at each of the players’ paths to professional basketball.
David Nwaba, Santa Monica College, Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers signed David Nwaba to a 10-day contract on February 28. The 24-year-old Nwaba, who played at Santa Monica College, went undrafted out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, but was signed by the D-League’s Reno Bighorns and eventually traded to the Lakers’ D-League affiliate. In his first season with the D-Fenders, Nwaba, a 6-foot-4, point guard, averaged 13.9 points and 7 rebounds a game in 38 appearances. He averaged 29 minutes a contest. Currently, Nwaba has played in three games for the Lakers, scoring 7 points and grabbing 4 rebounds. Nwaba, who graduated from University High School in Los Angeles, was a two-time league MVP. He signed with Hawaii-Pacific out of high school, redshirting the 2011-12 season. He eventually transferred to Santa Monica College, playing the 2012-13 season. He averaged 20.5 points a game his one season, ninth best in the state of California, and 8.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists. He was named the Western State Conference-South Division Player of the Year and selected to the CCCMBCA All-State team. He transferred to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where he became one of Cal Poly's top two scorers during each of his three years. Nwaba (2013-16) led the Mustangs in points (12.5), rebounds (6.3), assists (3.5) and steals (1.3) per game. He finished his career ranked 15th in program history with 465 rebounds and as one of only 23 players to score 1,000-plus career points.
Jaylen Bland, College of the Canyons, Salt Lake City Stars
The 23-year-old began his collegiate career at Murray State after graduating from Cleveland High School in Reseda. After playing in 12 games his freshman year, where he averaged just over six minutes a game and scored less than two points a game, he transferred to College of the Canyons. His sophomore year, he led Canyons to a 21-9 record and a regional sixth seed in the playoffs. The Cougars lost in the regional semifinals to Mt. San Antonio, 93-84. In 30 game that season, Bland averaged 16.6 points a game and 5.4 rebounds. The 6-foot-3 guard, also dished out 97 assists and blocked 50 shots. He signed with UC Riverside and played two seasons for the Highlanders. He averaged 11.2 points. His junior year, he was named the Big West Conference Newcomer of the Year and earned all-conference second team honors both seasons with the Highlanders. He went undrafted in the NBA draft, but was picked in the first round of the NBA Development League Draft. He was the 15th pick overall. Currently, with the SLC Stars, Bland is averaging 6.67 points a game and 2.2 rebounds.