Former Kansas State guard Rodney McGruder signed a partially guaranteed three-year contract with the Miami Heat on Thursday. McGruder is currently playing on the Heat’s summer league team in Orlando, and will also play for the team next week in Las Vegas.
“It means everything to me, and it’s tough to put together words right now because I’m ecstatic,” McGruder said in a phone interview. “It’s a lifelong goal (to play in the NBA). For them to think enough of me to even give me an opportunity to keep pursuing, that is everything.”
McGruder, who is 6 foot 5 and 205 pounds, has come close to making an NBA roster before after going to training camps with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Boston Celtics, and is playing the best basketball of his professional career. He helped lead the Sioux Falls Skyforce to a D-League championship last season while averaging 15.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists.
He has also averaged 21.4 minutes, 8.6 points and 3.6 rebounds and has made 5 of 12 three-pointers so far in summer-league play. With the departure of guard Dwyane Wade and possible departure of guard Tyler Johnson via free agency, McGruder’s best chance to make the team seems like now.
McGruder also played for Miami’s summer league team last July in Orlando and Las Vegas.
“I can’t think about anything else other than what’s in front of me right now, and the opportunity I have in hand right now,” McGruder said. “I want to stay focused on the present and what I have to do today.”
McGruder helped lead the Kansas State to a share of the Big 12 title as a senior in 2013 and played in the Elite Eight with the Wildcats as a freshman in 2010. The team made the NCAA Tournament all four years he played.