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Mejia’s all-around play up his odds to stick with Pistons
Solid Sammy
by Keith Langlois

Editor’s note: The Pistons went 4-1 in the Las Vegas Summer League with a team stocked with six players who figure to be on the 2007-08 roster. Pistons.com wraps up the Summer League with vice president John Hammond’s analysis of each of the six key players. Today: Sammy Mejia.
LAS VEGAS – Conventional wisdom on draft night was that the Pistons probably wouldn’t have room on their roster next season for Sammy Mejia, a 6-foot-6 swingman from DePaul who continued the draft theme of defensive versatility, smarts and toughness.

Pistons vice president Hammond now says it would be their preference to keep Mejia around, likely giving him plenty of exposure – along with 7-footer Cheick Samb – with their new Fort Wayne affiliate in the NBA Development League.

With Grant Hill choosing to sign with Phoenix in free agency, the Pistons’ perceived best option as a backup to Tayshaun Prince evaporated. Signing Chauncey Billups and Amir Johnson pushes the Pistons near the NBA luxury-tax threshold and there’s not much left on the free-agent market that would entice Joe Dumars to part with all or part of his mid-level exception.

So it appears the Pistons are prepared to enter the season with some combination of Mejia, fellow rookie Arron Afflalo and veteran journeyman Ronald Dupree as the backup solution to Prince.

“Watching him play in Vegas, you see a guy who knows how to play,” Hammond said of Mejia, who grew up in the Bronx. “When you describe a guy as knowing how to play, to me that’s one of the best compliments you can give. You can put them on the floor and they don’t hurt you. They find a way.”

Because the Pistons played Stuckey and Afflalo in the backcourt most of the time, the majority of Mejia’s Vegas minutes were devoted to playing small forward where he often guarded big, athletic players ranging from 2006 lottery pick Rudy Gay to 2007 lottery pick Thaddeus Young to Wizards 2007 second-round find Dominic McGuire, who went 10 picks ahead of Mejia. Mejia generally acquitted himself well in all of those matchups.

And after a two-rebound debut against Philadelphia, when he made a game-winning 3-pointer in the final second, Mejia averaged more than seven rebounds in the final four games to lead the Pistons.

“Sammy had a very good, solid week,” Hammond said. “We were impressed.”
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Pistons Sign Second-Round Pick Sammy Mejia

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars announced today that the club has signed second-round draft choice Sammy Mejia to a contract. Per team policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.
“We are pleased to sign Sammy Mejia and add him to our roster,” said Dumars. “Sammy's versatility allows him to play both the guard and small forward positions and we look forward to watching him grow as a player in our system.”

Mejia, 24, was drafted by the Pistons with the 57th overall pick in the second round of the 2007 NBA Draft. He averaged 12.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 123 career games at DePaul University where he earned second team All-Big East Conference honors as a senior. Mejia finished his collegiate career as DePaul’s ninth all-time leading scorer while ranking second in minutes played (3,839), fourth in games played (123) and sixth in assists (396). He was the second player in school history (Tom Kleinschmidt) to record 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 300 assists, 100 steals and 100 three-point field goals in his career.
Hard to believe this 25+ year Chicagoland resident is becoming more and more of a Piston fan...
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