North Idaho hoopers pursue NBA dreams
Former North Idaho College men’s basketball standouts Braian Angola and Brayon Blake are one step away from fulfilling their dreams of playing in the National Basketball Association. Both signed with NBA franchises to compete in the 2018 NBA MGM Resorts Summer League in Las Vegas.
Angola, a 1st Team NJCAA All-American for the Cardinals in 2016, signed with the Orlando Magic after his senior season at Florida State University. Blake, a 3rd Team NJCAA All-American, signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers, after a stellar senior season at the University of Idaho. Both players were members of the Cardinals 30-0 undefeated 2015-16 regular season team that qualified for the NJCAA national tournament.
While starring at NIC for two seasons, Angola, a 6-foot-6, 195-pound guard, averaged 21.4 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game as a sophomore, including a career-high 39 points (in just 22 minutes) against Columbia Basin. He was named Region 18 Player of the Year and led the Cardinals to the NJCAA tournament for the first time since 1997.
NIC was 54-9 in his two seasons in Coeur d’Alene. As the starting shooting guard for Florida State, Angola helped the Seminoles reach the Elite 8 of the NCAA tournament last season, including a Sweet 16 victory over Gonzaga University.
Despite emerging as a defensive stopper for the Seminoles (23-12), Angola was also the team’s second leading scorer, averaging 12.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and 3 assists, while shooting 83.7 percent from the free throw line and 38 percent from 3-point range.
Blake only played one season for the Cardinals but it was memorable, as he joined Angola to become the first tandem in NIC history to earn basketball All-American honors in the same season. Blake was also a Region 18 first team selection and averaged 21ppg and 6.6 rebounds for the Cardinals, while shooting 51.4 percent from the floor.
An All-Big Sky Conference first-team pick as a senior, Blake, a lean and active 6-foot-7 forward, led Idaho and the Big Sky last year with 9.6 rebounds per game. He also averaged 17 points with a dozen double-doubles, and scored 20 or more points 11 times last season. He was a solid presence inside for the Vandals who never blinked in close games, and he shot 44.8 percent from the 3-point line.
All NBA summer league games can be viewed on NBATV or ESPN network affiliates. League play runs from July 2- July 17, in Utah, Sacramento and Las Vegas. Blake and Angola will join former Cardinal standout James Webb III, who played with the Brooklyn Nets last season as a rookie. Webb is also expected to compete in Las Vegas as a second year player.