Justin Dentmon has been well-traveled in pursuit of sticking in NBA
The former Husky guard has played with nearly a dozen teams around the world since leaving UW in 2009.
Seattle Times staff reporter
So far from a place he used to call home, you can hear the fatigue in Justin Dentmon's voice.
"Man, I can really use a vacation," he said. "Real bad."
Since leaving Washington three years ago, he's been chasing a basketball dream on a tireless pursuit that's taken him all over the world.
He's in Milan, Italy, his latest stop after winning the NBA D-League MVP award and guiding the Austin Toros to a league championship last month.
"It's just that drive in me and wanting to exceed and wanting to accomplish more," Dentmon said. "It's just like people with power. They want more power.
"With me, I just want to accomplish more and more and add more to my story. When it's all said and done, I'm going to write a book."
He could pen a travel guide from an unconventional journey filled with exotic and remote locales far from the bright lights of the NBA. Dentmon has plenty of stories to tell and experiences to share.
There's the time vandals in Venezuela broke into his apartment and stole everything — his laptop, Xbox, clothes and money — leaving him with nothing but basketball.
Or the first time he got called up to the NBA and made his debut with the San Antonio Spurs.
"Two totally different worlds," he said, comparing his four weeks in Venezuela to his 10 days with the Spurs. "It's like going from A to Z. Just a different level. Everything the NBA does is very professional on and off the court.
"Just getting a taste of it made me feel like I belong up there. I just have to find the right fit and the right situation."
Even at Washington, Dentmon has always struggled with discovering a role.
He started his first two years and was voted to the Pac-10 all-freshman team in 2006, but the 5-foot-11, 185-pound standout wasn't a prototypical pass-first point guard.
He was benched early in his junior season and started just eight games.
The next season, Dentmon regained a starting job at shooting guard alongside Isaiah Thomas. He averaged 14.4 points while helping the Huskies to the school's first outright Pac-10 regular-season championship. Dentmon was named first-team all-conference and won the league's Most Improved Player award.
Maybe if he embraced and thrived as a point guard at Washington, Dentmon might have been drafted out of college and his professional career would have been easier.
Instead he began playing in Israel, which began a three-year trek in which he has crisscrossed the globe.
"The hardest part is maintaining composure and staying consistent throughout the year to get somebody to like you," Dentmon said. "You don't want to get frustrated, and your numbers drop, and they don't look your way at all.
"It's doing the same thing throughout the year without dropping. Just staying consistent."
It has been two years since Dentmon has taken an extended break from basketball. The vacation he has been pining will have to wait a few more months.
Once he returns to the United States, he plans to play in the Las Vegas summer league for an NBA team in July like he did in 2010 when he auditioned for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Last year's NBA lockout forced Dentmon to play in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. He also helped Team USA to a bronze medal in the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, before starting the 2011-12 D-League season with the Texas Legends, who traded him to Austin in November.
The next month, Dentmon spent nine days in the New Orleans Hornets' training camp before being waived before the NBA opener.
He returned to Austin, where he ranked fourth in the league in scoring (22.8).
After a short stint with the Spurs in March, Dentmon signed a 10-day contract with the Toronto Raptors in April.
"The feedback I got was great," Dentmon said. "I didn't get feedback like I didn't run the team right or I was too small.
"They said I was an NBA player. It's just all about the right fit and the right system, and I'm sure I can have a long career in the NBA."
Still, the pinnacle of his professional career was guiding the Toros to a D-League championship. Dentmon scored 30 points in the decisive 122-110 victory over Los Angeles.
Three days later, he boarded a 23-hour flight from San Antonio to Milan, where he's helping Olimpia Milano in the playoffs.
"I'm dying for a vacation," Dentmon said. "I can't wait. I want to go like on a cruise or something where I can just get away and be just be free from a cellphone and everything."
There's one place he won't be vacationing.
"Oh no," he said, laughing. "I'm not going to Venezuela."
|Pack the passport|
|Since leaving Washington three years ago, former Husky standout Justin Dentmon has made several stops around the world. Here's a look at his travel itinerary.|
|Israel||Hapoel Afulua||Sept. 2009-May 2010|
|Las Vegas||Memphis Grizzlies (Summer League)||July 2010|
|Frisco, Texas||Legends (D-League)||November 2010-April 2011|
|Venezuela||Toros de Aragua||June 2011|
|Dominican Republic||Cocolos||August-September 2011|
|Guadalajara, Mexico||Team USA (Pan Am Games)||October 2011|
|Austin, Texas||Toros (D-League)||November 2011-April 2012|
|New Orleans||Hornets (NBA training camp)||December 2011|
|San Antonio||Spurs (NBA)||March 2012|
|Toronto||Raptors (NBA)||April 2012|
|Milan, Italy||Olimpia Milano||May 2012|