Gabe Vincent’s childhood dream of playing in the NBA finally came true on Monday night during the final minute of the Miami Heat’s 113-92 victory over visiting Orlando.
The former UCSB star missed his only shot attempt — a three-pointer — after subbing into the game, but his agent believes it won’t be his last.
“With his shooting percentage, people (in the NBA) told me he was at the top of their list of players they might want to sign,” Bill Neff told the Miami Herald last weekend after the Heat summoned Vincent from its NBA G-League team in Sioux Falls, Iowa.
Vincent, who ranks seventh in the NBA’s developmental league with a 22.1-point average, was signed by Miami to a two-way contract on Jan. 8 and assigned to its G-League affiliate. Injuries to Goran Dragic, Kendrick Nunn, and Jimmy Butler prompted the Heat to bring him to Miami.
Two-way players are allowed to spend 45 days with their NBA parent club. That time was prorated to 26 days for Vincent since his acquisition from the Stockton Kings came midway through this season.
His time in Stockton last year was limited by a thumb injury that required surgery and a strained hamstring muscle.
“Coming in this year, I just wanted to show that I’ve improved and that I’m playing better,” said Vincent, who averaged 11.4 points per game for Nigeria’s National Team during last summer’s FIBA World Cup in China. His play helped qualify Nigeria for this summer’s Olympic Games.
The 6-foot-3 guard suited up but did not play during Miami’s 109-101 loss to visiting Boston on Tuesday. The Heat’s next game is Saturday at Orlando.
Vincent, who graduated from UCSB in 2018, set the school’s career record for three-pointers with 243. He ranks 10th on the Gauchos’ all-time scoring list with 1,441 points. His shooting percentages in the G-League this year are 46.9% overall and 41.9% from three-point range.
“People should have been all over me on this kid,” Neff said. “In 27 years of doing this — and I have had 27 guys called up — (Vincent) has the best record of any of my guys in that amount of time.
“He can play a couple positions and he guards, which is so hard to find (with his three-point shooting).”
He said Vincent caught the eye of several NBA teams during the G-League Showcase in Las Vegas last summer. Neff was sitting with Adam Simon, the Heat’s vice-president for basketball operations, during a game in which Vincent scored 35 points for the Stockton Kings.
Two NBA teams offered Vincent a two-way contract after the Showcase. Another was reportedly about to offer one, as well, when the former Gaucho signed with Miami.
Neff said the Heat got the nod because of its track record in developing undrafted players like Vincent.
“Great system,” he said. “They train their coaches … If I could pick any place for a G-League guy to go to, it would be Miami.”