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Isaiah Whaley signs Exhibit 10 contract with Hornets, RJ Cole signs Summer League deal with Lakers

Plus, former UConn big man Josh Carlton has joined the Spurs’ Summer League team.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

In 2020-2021, a UConn lineup of RJ Cole, Tyrese Martin, James Bouknight, Isaiah Whaley, and Josh Carlton shared the court for only 33 possessions. Fast forward two years and all five have now earned an NBA contract.

In addition to Martin getting his name called on Thursday, Isaiah Whaley inked an Exhibit 10 contract with the Charlotte Hornets, while RJ Cole and Josh Carlton received Summer League invites from the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs.

For Whaley, Exhibit 10s earn a one-year minimum salary NBA contract that teams can convert into a two-way deal before the start of the regular season. They also allow players to earn a bonus of up to $50,000 if they are waived by the team and sign with its NBA G-League affiliate for 60 days.

If the Hornets do keep the Wrench in their toolshed, Whaley will get to be coached up by Donyell Marshall, the assistant coach for the Greensboro Swarm, the Hornets’ G-League affiliate. And if they cut ties, he’ll still have plenty of chances to make an impression for teams around the league. Add in the fact that the Gastonia, North Carolina native will get to play so close to home, it will be incredibly exciting to see Whaley take the next step in his career.

Not bad for averaging 3.6 minutes per game as a sophomore. Whaley’s burgeoning range (35% from three as a senior) and switchability on defense make him an intriguing prospect at the next level.

For Cole, the Lakers have both their two-way contracts filled already, but a standout performance could help him latch on elsewhere. The former First-Team All-Big East nod is an adept floor general. If he can find a way to get his shot off consistently against bigger defenders, there is possible staying power there.

Carlton spent his last year of eligibility at Houston but will forever have a place in Husky fans’ hearts for eating the lunch of eventual top five pick Evan Mobley in 2021. You can’t teach size, and the 6-foot-11 Carlton has that in spades. The First-Team All-AAC selection (!) showed what he can do with ample minutes last year.

James Bouknight had NBA written all over him the second he walked out on the court for warmups. Tyrese Martin is finally getting the respect he deserves. But for Whaley, Cole, and Carlton to get NBA looks? That’s quite a feather in the cap for Dan Hurley and the coaching staff, not to take anything away from the hard work those three put in over the years.

The 2022 NBA Summer League will take place July 7-17 at the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. All games will be streaming on ESPN+.