Former ‘Nova stars shine early

Kyle Scudilla

By Kyle Scudilla

staff reporter

The road to a successful career in the National Basketball Association is a long, difficult and, to many, impossible journey to complete. That fact is obvious to just about anyone who follows sports, even on a casual level. With only 450 spots available on the 30 teams that comprise the NBA and all the talent to choose from locally and internationally, a young man on his path to becoming a professional player in the world’s most elite basketball league faces overwhelming odds.

Therefore, many people consider the success of former Villanova standouts and current NBA rookies Randy Foye, Allan Ray and Kyle Lowry to be very impressive.

About two months ago during the 2006 NBA draft, the three former Villanova teammates looked on as their ultimate dreams would either be made or broken. In the short time since then, each player has made a respectable impact on the rookie class and looks to have a good foothold on success in the NBA.

Randy Foye, drafted seventh overall by the Boston Celtics before being traded to the Portland Trail Blazers and finally the Minnesota Timberwolves, made arguably the biggest splash of all NBA rookies participating in this year’s summer leagues. Foye was named the Vegas Summer League’s MVP after leading the league in scoring and opening a lot of eyes along the way. He averaged 24.8 points per game on 53 percent shooting to go along with 4.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.2 steals per game.

Foye’s remarkable performance has already drawn him impressive comparisons to two NBA Finals MVPs, Detroit’s Chauncey Billups and Miami’s Dwyane Wade. While getting compared to NBA All-Stars so early in his career may be too much hype, those words alone show the impact he has already made in his short time with the Timberwolves’ organization.

Despite all the early bouncing around he did on draft night trades, Foye sounds just as happy as Minnesota management that he will be suiting up with All-Star Kevin Garnett and the rest of the Timberwolves this season.

“That’s something that anybody would dream of, playing with a big guy that is dominant and that talented,” Foye said in regards to Garnett in an interview with

Although Allan Ray received less pomp and circumstance than Foye on his way in and out of the Vegas Summer League, he also made steps in the right direction after getting snubbed on draft night. To the surprise of many analysts, the 2006 Naismith Player of the Year nominee went undrafted, mostly because of concerns with his size. Those concerns did not stop the Boston Celtics one bit, as they immediately contacted Ray once the draft was completed to invite him to team camp and eventually sign him to a contract.

“Right after the draft, I spoke with my agent, and he told me Danny Ainge wanted me to come down to the Summer League with them,” Ray said in an interview with the Boston affiliate of “Actually, Danny Ainge then called my cell phone, and I spoke with him. The next day, my agent told me there were a couple other teams that were interested. First, we decided to go with the team that wanted me first, which was Boston. Second, Boston seemed like they wanted me real bad.”

Ray did not disappoint Ainge or any of the Celtics’ brass, averaging 14.4 points per game, a figure that placed him in among the top 25 players in the league. His hot shooting early in the schedule had him playing more than double his initial minutes toward the end of the season, so his stock rose fairly quickly with the summer league squad. In five games, he shot 52 percent from the field and 83 percent from the free throw line, while showing toughness and quickness on defense, creating scoring opportunities for his teammates as well. He even won the league’s “Player of the Day” award on July 14 when he topped all scorers with 26 points to lead the Celtics to a come-from-behind victory against the Detroit Pistons.

While a leg injury delayed Kyle Lowry’s Southern California Summer Pro League debut, he quickly rebounded from his personal obstacles to show flashes of what General Manger Jerry West and the rest of the Memphis Grizzlies’ front office saw in him when they used the 24th overall pick on him in June. After sitting out the team’s first game, Lowry came back to average 12.5 points and 4.3 assists per game, proving himself capable of handling the team’s point guard duties.

Lowry sounds like he’s ready to do whatever Memphis asks of him in his rookie season.

“I’m not trying to be the All-Star or superstar, I’m just trying to help my team win,” Lowry said in an interview with “If that’s diving on the floor 15 times in one possession if I have to, or passing the ball to Eddie Jones, Pau Gasol, Mike Miller and those guys every time, I don’t mind doing it. I just want to go out there and be part of a great team.”

It’s that style of play and commitment to excellence on the court that led West to call Lowry a “bowling ball.” He explained, “He’ll knock down anyone who’s in front of him.”

During the NBA’s regular season, Villanova’s trifecta are set to meet each other seven times. Foye and Ray will meet twice when Minnesota plays Boston in January and February. Ray will go head-to-head with Lowry twice when the Celtics and Grizzlies clash in December and January. Meanwhile, Foye and Lowry will meet up three times when Minnesota and Memphis play in January, February and April with Western Conference playoff spots on the line.

While their time as partners at Villanova is now merely a thing of the past, Foye, Ray and Lowry remain as close as they ever were as friends.

“When we were at school they were like brothers to me,” Ray said of his former teammates. Although they may all be wearing different uniforms, the three colleges friends are still playing for the same dream.