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Caravanning ‘Cats, Part One: How NU men’s basketball alumni are performing in professional basketball leagues

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Would you believe it if I told you that seven members of the legendary 2016-17 team are now playing professional ball?

NCAA BASKETBALL: JAN 08 Northwestern at Nebraska Photo by John Peterson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

During the NFL season, one of the staple pieces here at Inside NU is “Northwestern in the NFL,” in which we showcase how former Northwestern football players are faring in professional football. Pat Fitzgerald’s protégés have rightly drawn adequate attention — from Greg Newsome being named to Pro Football Focus’ All-Rookie Secondary to Dean Lowry and Tyler Lancaster competing in the NFC Divisional Round this past weekend, Wildcats have made their presences felt in the NFL.

What can easily fly under the radar, however, is the plethora of former Northwestern basketball players that aren’t just playing at the next level, but are thriving in doing so.

Sure, no former Wildcats may be active in the actual NBA, but that doesn’t stop us from highlighting players shooting the lights out in the G League or even overseas.

First up: a look around how former men’s basketball ‘Cats are doing in the next stages of their careers.

Scottie Lindsey

The man who sits 20th in career points in Northwestern history and who was an anchor of the team’s only NCAA Tournament run has stayed true to his local ties.

Born in Hillside, Illinois and having attended Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Lindsey went undrafted after playing in Evanston from 2014-18. However, he quickly found time in the NBA’s minor league equivalent.

Lindsey signed with the Detroit Pistons’ summer league team in 2018 and was with the Grand Rapids Drive, their G League affiliate, for the regular-season campaign. Lindsey averaged 10.5 points and 3.7 assists per game in 15 matchups before suffering a season-ending injury.

From there, Lindsey signed with the Erie BayHawks – now known as the Birmingham Squadron – as part of the New Orleans Pelicans’ developmental squad. Lindsey maintained a nearly identical stat line.

After two seasons in the G League, Lindsey pivoted and went overseas, joining SL Benfica of the Portuguese Basketball League and playing with the team in 2020.

But the local hero couldn’t stray too far from home for too long. After the 2020 season, Lindsey entered the 2021 NBA G League Draft, where he was taken 17th overall by the Windy City Bulls, the Chicago Bulls’ G League team. Suiting up 40 minutes from Evanston, Lindsey has averaged 11.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per contest while seeing action alongside Tyler Cook, Mac McClung and Marco Simonovic. Last Wednesday, Lindsey poured in 24 points and six rebounds to power the Bulls to a win.

Vic Law

Law, who ranks in the top 10 of numerous Northwestern historical marks, started his career much of the same way that Lindsey did.

In 2019, Law was not selected in the NBA Draft, but found a home with the Orlando Magic’s Summer League Team. Subsequently, Law was sent to the Lakeland Magic – Orlando’s G League team, where he played from 2019-20 and averaged 19.7 points and 8.1 rebounds in nearly an average of 35 minutes of action per game.

Perhaps most notably, Law did appear in eight games with the NBA Magic, playing 62 minutes and amassing 15 points in no starts.

Afterwards, Law ventured to distant lands, too. The former NU scoring leader played for Australia’s Brisbane Bullets in 2021, finishing second on the squad in scoring and first in rebounds. Law only played in 16 matchups due to a torn tendon in his ankle.

This season, Law is part of the Perth Wildcats. They currently sit at 6-2, largely due to Law’s 22.0 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.

Dererk Pardon

The ‘Cats’ all-time leader in field goal percentage found himself right back alongside Law after the two finished their college careers, combining forces on Orlando’s Summer League unit.

While Law would join the ranks of the G League, Pardon elected to play overseas. Pardon donned the red and white jerseys of Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia in Italy, putting up an average of 6.1 points and 5.2 rebounds in 21 games before a hand injury curtailed his season.

After a brief tenure with Medi Bayreuth of Basketball Bundesliga, Pardon inked a deal with Hapoel Be’er Sheva of the Israeli Premier League. The center has been a force to be reckoned with, posting nearly a double-double (15.3 points and 9.2 rebounds) every contest.

Reggie Hearn

Hearn predates the Chris Collins era of Northwestern basketball, but the former Wildcat is still going strong in the G League.

Since leaving Evanston in 2013, the 30-year-old has remained steadfast in the NBA’s minor leagues. Hearn has suited up for the Idaho Stampede (2013-14; Utah Jazz), Reno Bighorns/Stockton Kings (2014-19; Sacramento Kings), South Bay Lakers (2019-20, Los Angeles Lakers), Ignite (2020-21) and Memphis Hustle (2021-22; Memphis Grizzlies). Hearn actually played two and a half minutes of NBA action with the Detroit Pistons on February 5, 2018, where he nailed a three.

For the Hustle this season, Hearn has started 15 games, putting up an 11.4/4.1/2.3 stat line while helping to mentor up-and-comers such as Matthew Hurt, Jarrett Culver and Killian Tillie.

Ryan Taylor

Though he played just one season in Welsh-Ryan Arena, Taylor finished third on the Wildcats in scoring that year. After the 2018-19 campaign, Taylor was part of the Santa Cruz Warriors, Golden State’s G League affiliate.

From 2019-20, Taylor took part in 36 games, earning 12 starting nods and averaging nine points per game. Taylor then went to Greece’s Iraklis for the 2021-22 season but eventually returned to Santa Cruz, where he collected 11 points and one assist in a loss on Friday night.

Pat Spencer

Spencer, a former lacrosse star at Loyola Maryland, came to Evanston to further cultivate his love for basketball. Considering that Spencer is still shooting hoops, it seems that his decision was portentous.

After starting 29 games for the ‘Cats in 2019-20, Spencer was invited to training camp by the Capital City Go-Go, the Washington Wizards’ G League team. Spencer ended up making the roster and is averaging 5.8 points per game in 17 contests (zero starts) this year.

On Saturday, Spencer played against Lindsey and the Windy City Bulls, notching this impressive chase-down block. The two played yet again on Monday night; the Bulls won to split the two-game matchup.

Aaron Falzon

Falzon departed NU for Quinnipiac in 2019, but his experience under Collins was still key in shaping his basketball experience.

The forward signed with the Etoile Angers Basket of the Nationale Masculine 1, the third tier professional division of French basketball, in September 2020. Shortly thereafter, Falzon stayed within Europe but pivoted to England, joining the Leicester Riders of the British Basketball League.

For the 2021 season, Falzon has been part of the Traiskirchen Lions of the Austrian Basketball Bundesliga, where he’s averaged 11.7 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.

A.J. Turner

Turner played with the Wildcats from 2018-20 after sitting out the 2017-18 campaign post-transfer, seeing 24 starts in 62 total matchups. Once leaving Evanston, Turner elected to play for the Kapfenberg Bulls of the Austrian Basketball Bundesliga – ironically, opposite Falzon.

This season, Turner has been part of Germany’s Sports Club Rasta Vechta, which is within the country’s second echelon of professional basketball. Turner has seen time in just seven games but has converted seven of his 11 field goal attempts.

Barret Benson

Benson is yet another player from the Wildcats’ March Madness team to have his basketball career prolonged abroad.

The 6-foot-10 center closed out his college tenure at Southern Illinois before joining BC Dinamo Tbilisi of the Georgian Super Liga. Benson led the team in rebounds per game (10.5) while also adding in 16.8 points per contest, good enough for second on the squad. Benson also spent time with the Uni Baskets Paderborn in Germany’s second-highest basketball league, the ProA.

For the 2021-22 season, Benson emigrated to Bulgarian basketball, playing with BC Rilski Sportist. From there, the Illinois native journeyed to Kosovo to join KB Yili, where he now starts at center and averages 13.1 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.

Rapolas Ivanauskas

Ivanauskas began his college career at NU but transferred to Colgate and then Cincinnati. The Lithuania native signed with the country’s Rytas Vilnius in January 2021. Seven months later, Ivanauskas joined BC CBet Prienai — the same team for which LaMelo and LiAngelo Ball played in 2018 — where he is the starting power forward. Ivanauskas averages 11.4 points and 6.1 boards per matchup.