James Nunnally, who has played professional basketball in seven foreign countries on three continents since graduating from UCSB in 2012, will be representing the United States later this month.
The 6-foot-7 forward was one of 14 players named by USA Basketball on Tuesday to play for the national team that will compete in the third and final window of FIBA AmeriCup Qualifying.
The team is mostly a collection of free-agent all-stars auditioning for NBA scouts. Nunnally, who has played parts of two seasons with four NBA clubs, is one of seven players on the roster with NBA experience. Marquee names include former NBA all-stars Isaiah Thomas and Joe Johnson.
Joe Prunty, former interim head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks and most recently the lead assistant of the Phoenix Suns, will coach the team. The squad will train from Feb. 13 to 18 in San Juan, Puerto Rico before playing Bahamas on Feb. 19 and Mexico on Feb. 20.
Although spectators will not be allowed because of COVID-19 precautions, all games will be streamed on ESPN+.
“Sean (Ford) and the USA Basketball staff have assembled a very talented and balanced roster with a combination of youth and veteran players,” Prunty said. “Joe and Isaiah have the most NBA experience, but there are several players with valuable professional experience to prepare them for this competition, including on the international level.
“It will be exciting to watch them come together as a team to represent the USA.”
Nunnally helped lead UCSB to its last two NCAA Tournament appearances, in 2010 and 2011. His 1,685 career points rank fifth in the school record books.
He and Orlando Johnson still represent the top one-two punch in Gaucho history. They combined for 1,194 points during the 2010-11 season — the most ever by a UCSB duo. Their 1,106 combined points in 2011-12 rank third and their 2009-10 season of 965 is eighth.
Nunnally’s three-point percentage of 45.5% during the 2010 season is fifth-best in Gaucho history. He also ranks in UCSB’s all-time top-10 in both three-pointers (ninth with 197) and rebounds (10th with 634).
He went undrafted in 2012 but played that season in the NBA’s Development League for the Bakersfield Jam. He returned to the league the following year and played for the Texas Legends.
Nunnally signed a 10-day contract with the Atlanta Hawks in January of 2014 and two more 10-day contracts with the Philadelphia 76ers later that March. He got into 13 games during that 30-day period.
He also got into 15 NBA games during the 2018-19 season, signing 10-day contracts with both Minnesota and Houston. He’s averaged 2.9 points in 28 total NBA games.
Others on the Team USA roster with NBA experience are Josh Boone, Treveon Graham, Dakota Mathias and Jordan Sibert. The rest of the roster includes Paul Atkinson, Cat Barber, Chris Daniels, Will Davis II, KJ Feagin, Ra’Shad James and Tre-Shawn Thurman.
Davis played against Nunnally when he was a freshman at UC Irvine in 2011-12.
Nunnally’s stock rose overseas when he won the Italian League’s MVP Award during the 2015-16 season. He played the following season for Turkey’s Fenerbahce, one of the top-ranked teams in Europe.
He shot 52% from the three-point line during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons combined (208-for-400). Only one player has ever done better in EuroLeague history.
Nunnally also established himself as an elite defender while leading Fenerbahce to the EuroLeague championship in 2017 as well as to the 2018 finals.
He played 12 games in China last season, averaging 22.3 points and 5.5 rebounds for Shanghai Dongfang, before returning to Turkey to play 15 more games for Fenerbahce. He averaged 8.3 points while shooting 52.2% from three.
Nunnally’s eight-year professional career has also included stints in Greece, Israel, Puerto Rico and Spain.
The FIBA AmeriCup 2022, formerly known as the FIBA Americas Championship and the Tournament of the Americas, was first played in 1980. It pits the national teams from North America, Central America, the Caribbean and South America.
The qualifying event will divide 16 teams into four groups, with the top three from each group earning a berth in the FIBA AmeriCup 2022.