Brad Wanamaker, Never Too Late to Earn the Role
Brad Wanamaker played guard at Pittsburgh from 2007-11, an instrumental part of some of the program’s best-ever teams. His four years were the last four campaigns of the 10-straight seasons Pitt went to the Big Dance, the longest streak in Pitt men’s basketball history.
Wanamaker appeared in no fewer than 30 games in each of his seasons and started in all 78 games his junior and senior seasons, scoring in double figures both years as one of Pitt’s top scoring options.
He was not selected in the 2011 NBA Draft and started his professional career in Italy, but it didn’t take long for him to return stateside for the end of the 2011-12 season, joining the Austin Toros in time to contribute toward their 2012 D-League title.
For the following season, Wanamaker signed with Limoges CSP in LNB Pro A, the top French league, and posted nine points per game. He moved back to Italy for the 2013-14 season and stepped up his game, scoring 16.1 points per contest and improving his shooting percentage nearly 5 percent. The opportunities in Europe continued to come as Wanamaker spent until 2018 bouncing among Italy, Germany and Turkey and competed in some of the biggest competition in Europe along the way, consistently excelling.
“Coming out of college, you think you’re ready for the NBA,” Wanamaker said in an interview with Boston.com. “We’re only as good as we think we are, but going (to Europe) helped me develop my all-around game and become a leader. I became a big-time player and improved my outside shot. I had a pretty successful career over there and made pretty good money.”
A little more than seven years after going undrafted, and shortly before his 29th birthday, Wanamaker signed with an NBA team in 2018. He told Boston.com he had been in talks with multiple NBA teams over the years he was in Europe only for nothing to happen. The conversations with the Celtics went on as he was competing for a championship with his Turkish team, Fenerbahce, and even won Final MVP with the prospects of an NBA career looming over his head.
“It was in the back of my mind, but there was still that doubt,” he told Boston.com. “I’ve been here before, and I’ve heard the same thing before.”
Finally, his NBA dreams came to fruition, and in his rookie season, Wanamaker has found a steady spot on the roster, appearing in 27 games and averaging 1.3 points and 9.3 minutes per contest as of March 5.
Wanamaker is shooting 51.6 percent from behind the arc, the highest percentage on the team. He has only taken 31 three pointers this season, but it’s an example of him making the most of his limited minutes. His impact has also been felt on the defensive end, which he was known for in his European playing days.
“I thought Brad Wanamaker was great,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens after a 114-93 win over Dallas. “J.J. Barea really killed us last time, and Brad made it really hard on him. He gave up a lot to come here and not play a lot, so you are really, really happy for him.”
If you want to check in on Wanamaker yourself, you can watch him and the Celtics play tonight at Golden State at 10:30 p.m. EST.