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Checking in with Memphis’ G-League Hustle

Terry Davis

On fire since the NBA G-League season started, Memphis Hustle power forward Kenny Lofton Jr. continues to establish himself as a dominant force.

The Hustle lost (94-84) this week to the Birmingham Squadron at the Landers Center in Southaven. Lofton, again, led Memphis in scoring with 24 points while grabbing 13 rebounds.

On the season, Lofton is averaging over 30 points per game. He is getting the chance to play outside and inside as he works on developing his game to benefit the Grizzlies.

As a player with a two-way contract, Lofton is on the active rosters of the Hustle and the Grizzlies. As such, he can only play in a limited number of NBA games. He also can’t be included on a Grizzlies’ post-season roster.

First Team All-Conference USA with the Louisiana Bulldogs, Lofton declared for the 2022 NBA Draft, going undrafted and signing with the Grizzlies. When he took the court against Birmingham, Xavier Tillman, a player more familiar to Grizzlies fans, also was doing damage in the paint.

Sent to the Hustle to log more game action, Tillman (center) finished with 17 points and 9 rebounds. He and small forward/ shooting guard Vince Williams Jr. joined the team after returning with the Grizzlies from a road game in New York City. Both were on the court for the Hustle 17 hours later. Williams had 2 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists.

The Grizzlies use their G-League team as a close sister team more than most other NBA teams. The move from Sioux Falls, South Dakota to Southaven makes it easier to send players back and forth between the Hustle and the Grizzlies without getting on an airplane.

Kenny Lofton Jr. (Photo: Terry Davis/The New Tri-State Defender)

In three weeks, the Hustle (3-4) will go to the G-League Showcase in Las Vegas, where Lofton captured the attention of many NBA fans during the Los Vegas Summer League. The Showcase puts all of the teams in one place, making it easier for NBA team scouts to evaluate all the players at one site.

Hustle head coach Jason March reflected on what he would like to see by then from the team.

“It is just finding that consistency with these guys,” he said.

“We have put together some (good) games. We played well in Mexico City. When our assist numbers are way up that is when we are playing our best. We can control our consistency and our energy. All the other stuff will come with time.”

The next Hustle game will be on Wednesday (November 30) at 7 p.m. at the Landers Center.

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