By Brandon Speck
You don’t have to tell anybody in North Mississippi that Courtney Fells can shoot the rock.
The former Shannon star once had to be escorted from Amory’s gym, against an angry mob of fans who booed every single one of the 10 3-pointers he hit in a shooting clinic against the Panthers.
The NBA knows, too. Fells averaged 15 points in five summer league games with the New Orleans Pelicans this month. But he wants the league to know more.
“Scoring is just one part of my game. I just try to make sure I do the little things that the coaches ask me to do consistently,” Fells said via phone from Las Vegas. “I try to make sure I do what they ask me to defensively, make sure I’m in the right place for the right spacing, things like that.”
Fells, 27, fits the NBA mold, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard who can aggressively guard the wing and shoot from it.
He scored six points against a D-League Select Team. Against the Lakers, he played 23 minutes and scored 25. He hit 9-of-13 from the field, 4-of-6 from deep. He made all three attempts from the line.
He scored 19 points and had five rebounds against the Spurs, then 19 against the Hornets in an 8-for-15 night, 3-of-6 from deep with a pair of steals and three rebounds in 28 minutes. He earned a start in New Orleans’ final summer league game, finishing with six points.
He hopes it will result in a training camp invitation somewhere.
“We shot the ball well. They’re saying something good will come out of it. But it’s still a business,” he said. “We just hope for the best, if it’s here or overseas.”
A former Daily Journal Player of the Year, Fells played at North Carolina State from 2005 through 2009. He has spent the last five seasons mainly in Israel and Cyprus, as well as last season with the NBA D-League’s Austin Toros, where he started 41 of 47 games and averaged 18 points, nearly five rebounds and three assists and 1.72 steals per game.
Fells, 27, has a son and lives in Southaven, not far from his high school memories.
“Playing in the Lee County Tournament against Tupelo. I used to look forward to that every day, have the gym sell out,” he said. “A lot of those guys at Tupelo are my friends, so that was a lot of fun.”
Oh, so close
He wants to either land in the NBA or Euroleague. This was not his first NBA taste. He averaged 4.7 points and 3.3 rebounds in three preseason games with the Spurs last season in 12.4 minutes per game before being cut one spot shy of making the NBA champions’ roster.
With the Toros, he had three double-doubles and shot 48 percent from the field, 38 percent from three. His player efficiency rating of 16.05 was a point above the NBA average.
“Those are the little things that you’re going to need to do to make the team,” Fells said, “not scoring, because they pay guys to do that.”