Another Husky may be in line for a step up to the next level. Former UConn captain and star guard Christian Vital signed a deal with the Memphis Grizzlies Wednesday and was then waived quickly after, according to a pair of team releases.
The @memgrizz today announced the team signed Christian Vital and waived Zhaire Smith. Press release below. pic.twitter.com/9zR7eHSVmT— Grizzlies PR (@GrizzliesPR) December 16, 2020
The @memgrizz today announced that the team signed Shaq Buchanan and waived Christian Vital. Press release below.— Grizzlies PR (@GrizzliesPR) December 16, 2020
Buchanan will wear jersey #20 for the Grizzlies. pic.twitter.com/4q9PkYLTTZ
Despite being waived, Vital could still be signed to the Grizzlies G-League team, the Memphis Hustle.
Vital had signed with German team BG Göttingen back in August and went undrafted in the NBA Draft last month.
If assigned to the Grizzlies’ G-League team, he would join Kemba Walker, Andre Drummond, Rudy Gay, Jeremy Lamb, and Amida Brimah as UConn alumni attached to NBA teams. Former Husky Shabazz Napier has yet to sign with a team this offseason and is currently a free agent.
The Grizzlies’ backcourt is highlighted by start point guard Ja Morant, with Dillon Brooks, De’Anthony Melton, Tyus Jones, Desmond Bane, and Grayson Allen expected to compete for minutes.
Vital is a bit undersized for an NBA guard at 6-foot-2, 187 lbs. but could provide some tenacious defense and a shooter’s touch for a young Grizzlies team. Memphis was a bottom-10 team in points allowed per game and also attempted the sixth-fewest threes per contest last season.
During his UConn career, Vital averaged 13.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, and a little over 2 assists per game and finished third in program history with 215 steals.
He ended last season with a 39.8% field goal percentage and 34.6% three-point percentage, while also hitting nearly 90% of his attempts from the free-throw line. He led the Huskies in scoring (16.4), rebounding (6.3), and minutes played (32.2) per game in his senior season as well.
This story was updated to include Rudy Gay in the list of former Huskies in the NBA.