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J.J. Avila and Jon Octeus are just “livin’ the dream.” It’s a saying that gets thrown around wildly, more as a complaint than a prideful boast, but the two former Colorado State Men’s Basketball players are indeed living their dreams.
Back in April, Avila was preparing for pre-draft workouts by practicing with Chauncey Billups, a Denver native with the nickname “The King of Park Hill.” The former Ram learned a great deal through the workouts, like fighting through fatigue to finish strong, and talked about those NBA dreams.
“The ultimate goal is to make an NBA roster, obviously,” Avila said in an exclusive interview with BSNdenver.com. “I’m not sure the likelihood of me getting drafted, but I’m going to keep working my butt off. I’m trying to get better every day. If it happens, it happens. If not, then I’ll do whatever it takes to make it. I know how tough it is and the percentage of college players, or anyone really, becoming an NBA player. But if not, I can try something overseas.”
While the 6’7” 240-pound forward didn’t get drafted, he has landed on the Houston Rockets NBA Summer League team. For the McAllen, Texas native, playing in his home state must be a continuation of that dream coming true.
On Friday night, as Summer League tipped off, it began Avila’s NBA career. He played 3:39, tallying one assist, one steal, one rebound and a foul. After the game, he tweeted, “Best three minutes and thirty nine seconds of my life. My heart was about to beat out of my chest. So blessed to even be here. Amazing.”
While Avila spent his final three years of college ball at Colorado State, Jon Octeus played two years with the green and gold before transferring to Purdue. As a senior at Purdue, Octeus averaged 9.3 points, 2.6 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game.
The 23-year old didn’t even have to leave the state for his new professional team as the Indiana Pacers signed him post-draft.
“It’s a blessing,” Octeus told the Pacers’ website 10 days ago. “I feel like it’s all part of the process, part of the journey. The ultimate goal is to play in the NBA. So, I’ve been given this opportunity and want to take advantage of it.”
Octeus wants to prove he belongs and helped the cause Friday night. In the Pacers’ Summer League finale, the former CSU guard filled the stat sheet with 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and four steals. Unfortunately, his team lost 88-74 to the Orlando Blue.
While Octeus’ Summer League is over, it’s just starting for Avila. His next game is Sunday at 2:30 p.m. MT on NBA TV as the Rockets take on the Phoenix Suns.