Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
For the second straight offseason, the Chicago Bulls moved quickly to sign a two-way player shortly after the NBA Draft concluded.
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In 2022, the Bulls targeted Marquette forward Justin Lewis, who, unfortunately, then missed the year with an ACL injury, surgery and rehabilitation.
Last month, the Bulls moved to secure Connecticut big man Adama Sanogo, whose signing they officially announced Monday night.
Both Lewis and Sanogo are in Las Vegas, where the Bulls resume NBA Summer League play Tuesday night against the Sacramento Kings. For Sanogo, who grew up in Mali playing soccer before switching his focus to basketball, it’s an opportunity he isn’t taking lightly.
“If they give me a two-way, they’re giving me a chance to prove myself to them,” Sanogo said last week in Chicago following a practice at the Advocate Center. “I’ll show them how I can help this team to be one of the best in the NBA. I want to do whatever they want me to do to get a roster spot.
“I may not get all the time I want in summer league. But the time I may get, I’m going to use that to show them I’m a great teammate and I compete and I want to win.”
Sanogo, a burly, 6-foot-9-inch big man, earned Most Outstanding Player honors at the NCAA Final Four as UConn won the national championship. His earnestness is palpable in one conversation.
“Like, 10 years later I’m going to be like, ‘All right, I’m a champion,’” he said of the Huskies’ title run. “That feeling is going to be there forever.”
So is the night the Bulls called, tempering the disappointment of not getting drafted with a two-way contract offer.
“That’s a feeling I will never forget for the rest of my life,” Sanogo said.
The Bulls already employ one traditional big man from UConn on the NBA roster in Andre Drummond. But he was the ninth overall pick by the Detroit Pistons in 2012. Sanogo’s path will be much tougher.
His first two games in Las Vegas showed an ability to rebound and set solid screens. But his shooting will need to improve, as will his athleticism. No longer will he be able merely to bully smaller players as he did sometimes in college, where he averaged 17.2 points and 7.7 rebounds last season.
“My defense, being able to switch 1 through 5,” Sanogo said of his focus in summer league. “Being able to stretch the floor a little bit, being able to catch-and-shoot. And work on my body a little bit. Those three things for sure.”
Sanogo said Bam Adebayo and Xavier Tillman are current NBA players he admires. If the amiable big man becomes even a small copy of those NBA regulars, the Bulls would be pleased with their signing.