Alade Aminu keeps NBA dream alive

Nine former Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets played in the NBA last season, third-most among ACC schools behind Duke (14) and North Carolina (11).

Alade Aminu aims to be No. 10.

The 6-foot-10, 225-pound forward played for the Washington Wizards’ team in the NBA Summer League, which ended Sunday in Las Vegas, and hopes for an invitation to training camp.

In Vegas, Aminu reunited with two former Tech teammates. Javaris Crittenton started at point guard for the Wizards. Golden State’s Anthony Morrow scored a league-record 47 points in a win over New Orleans.

Getting limited minutes in all five games, Aminu made 8 of 15 shots and showed he can run the floor with any big man, but at times he was outmuscled for rebounds.

The 22-year-old spoke with the AJC about his NBA goal, reuniting with old teammates, his Vegas experience and the free basketball camp his nonprofit group conducted last month.

AJC: Been to Vegas before?

Aminu: First time out here.

AJC: Where did they put you up?

Aminu: We’re at the Platinum Hotel, right behind the strip. It’s not in the mix of everything where we can get in trouble. It’s a good little spot.

AJC: Gambling any?

Aminu: Got lucky on the slot machine once or twice, won like $38 bucks, then lost some at the tables. I wanted to kind of get my mind off [basketball]. It was an off-day, so I had a chance to relax and enjoy the city. If it’s a game night, you want to get rested.

AJC: It’s like a Tech reunion out here.

Aminu: It’s been great playing with Javaris again. Last time we played together (2006-07), we made that run to the NCAA Tournament. We’ve got good chemistry. We’ve been joking and laughing like the old days. A-Mo [Anthony Morrow] came to one of our games, and it was cool to see him as well. It’s great that he broke the record.

AJC: Have you seen him shoot like that before?

Aminu: In practice he didn’t miss at all. If he’d shoot 10 shots, he was probably going to make all 10, or at least nine.

AJC: He’s a guy who made the league without being drafted.

Aminu: I’m elated for him, all the success he’s had. He deserves it because he works so hard.

AJC: Were you disappointed you weren’t drafted after making the All-Tournament team at the Portsmouth Invitational for college seniors?

Aminu: I thought I might land with a team, but my head wasn’t really down. It’s just going to be more hard work to make sure I make a roster, [to] be able to show I can bring energy to somebody’s team and help out.

AJC: Is it hard to make an impact in limited minutes? (Aminu averaged 8.6 minutes in Vegas).

Aminu: None of us is expected to come into the NBA and get 40 minutes, so I think they want to see what you can do with the minutes you get, make the most of it.

AJC: What have coach Flip Saunders and Wizards assistants said about your game?

Aminu: They say I bring a lot of energy. I’m very active, have a great feel for the game, rebound. Flip said I had a great mini-camp [before Vegas]. Only thing he said was I need to keep learning the plays and picking up the scheme.

AJC: What did you think of your brother and Gani Lawal staying in school?

Aminu: Both could have gotten drafted. I thought it was a good decision for Gani to come back [to Tech for his junior season]. As far as my little brother [Wake Forest sophomore Al-Farouq Aminu], he could have been a top-5 pick and done really well, but he wanted to mature as a person, get better and put in another year of work. He told me halfway through the season he wanted to stay in college. He’s in no rush to jump. He wants to go when he’s ready, and I support him 100 percent.

AJC: Tell me about the two-day basketball camp your nonprofit group, Brotherhood of the World, ran at Norcross High School.

Aminu: It was the first time we did it, and it turned out beautifully. We had close to 100 kids. They were so excited to be there and enjoyed all the activities, they didn’t want to leave when it was over. We’ll do it again next year. To see their faces, with the awards they got and knowing how much they wanted to come back, that was a great feeling.