Angel Nunez, a 6-8 forward born in the Dominican Republic and raised in The Bronx, is one of those who tried out for basketball's G League hoping to turn his dreams into NBA reality. His journey includes attending two high schools, three colleges and formerly playing overseasons before succeeding in a local tryout wih the Long Island Nets this year.
Nunez grew up in the same Washington Heights neighborhood as former NBA player Felipe Lopez. “Felipe Lopez was before my time but I definitely knew who he was and I looked up to the dude, you know, from a distance. But the player I looked up to was Francisco Garcia.
"He was from the South Bronx. He was Dominican. He made it, got drafted in the NBA and he was a big inspiration for me as a kid and seeing him make it made me think I can, too.”
Garcia played at Louisville from 2002–2005, a shooting guard and small forward averaging 14.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game, and went on to become the 23rd overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft. He played for the Sacramento Kings and the Houston Rockets.
Nunez, after averaging 17 points, four rebounds and three assists per game during his sophomore year at Cardinal Hayes High School in The Bronx, left home ato transfer to Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. From there, he was a journeyman in his collegiate career, playing for three Division I schools--Louisville from 2011-12, gonzaga from 2013 to 2015 and finally South Florida, from which he graduated in 2016 with a communications degree.
Playing for multiple schools, Nunez said, "helped a lot because of the pace... plays are a lot of quick and not as much drawn up stuff like in college. It helped me a lot because I went from different schools that had different systems, different offenses so pretty much I had to learn so many plays and pretty much wherever I’d go, we ran that play or something similar. ”
He had his best numbers his senior year at South Florida under coach Orlando Antigua. At South Florida, Nunez started 29 of 33 games his senior year, averaging 9.6 points 6.1 rebounds in 29 minutes.
Long Island Nets point guard Jahmal McMurray, acquired in a draft trade, was a teammate of Nunez in high school has seen a lot of growth in Nunez' game since 2016. “Man, he’s a lot more comfortable," McMurray said. "He does more of everything as far as shooting, rebounding and blocking shots, he was doing that stuff in South Florida but I feel like, when you’re a pro, it helps you to do it more. The chemistry is already there because we played with each other already....I feel like we’re going to do a lot better in this conference then in college [American Athletic Conference] and tear it up even more.”
Nets head coach Shaun Fein said, “Angel is versatile player. He can play the 4 position for us. He can spread the floor with his shooting. Very athletic, very long, and I think he can guard multiple positions, and I can envision him being a small-ball five if we need him.”
Nunez credits his versatility from starting as a guard first. “I started off as shooting guard slash combo guard and then more like a wing player, and then as tall as I am, now being able to play the 4, I think all of that played into making me a more versatile player today.”
Playing overseas for the Bank of Taiwan helped, too, he said. "Transitioning from high school to college was tougher," he said. And his adventure continues.