When Edwin Ubiles was trying to select a Wizards jersey number, he kept getting spurned. He wanted the number he wore for the NBA Development League’s Dakota Wizards, but Jan Vesely already had No. 24. He wanted No. 23, but was told that Nene might possibly pick it (and oh, by the way, the last guy to wear it was only Michael Jordan). He wanted the No. 11 his older brother wore, but Elvin Hayes already had it retired.
So, he finally settled on the No. 1 that Nick Young wore for the past 4½ seasons. Now, Young’s jersey was never going to be retired, and the Wizards aren’t expecting him to provide similar production. But Ubiles is a player that they would like to take an extended look at, beginning with the 10-day contract he signed on Sunday, after averaging 20.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists and making the D-League all-star game.
“Just another opportunity. Well-deserved. I worked hard. I just want to come here, continue to get better and hopefully help the team as much as possible,” Ubiles said. “It’s an opportunity for me, a great opportunity. It’s a dream I always wanted of course. And I’m just looking forward to come up here and having fun.”
With Young gone, the Wizards will need more help on the perimeter, but the 6-foot-6 Ubiles said his game is reminiscent of New Orleans swingman Trevor Ariza (who also wears No. 1).
“I can play a little bit multiple positions, can do a little of everything, put it on the floor, a good midrange game, can handle it, athletic, I’m active and I play some defense, have a well-around balanced game.”
Ubiles, 25, had hoped to make it in the NBA two years ago, but his career was delayed by a stress fracture in his right tibia. He played with the injury for more than a year at Siena, but elected to finally have surgery when he went undrafted in 2010.
After rehabbing for a full year, the 6-foot-6 forward made his way back last October as he helped Puerto Rico capture the gold medal at the Pan American Games and earned an invitation to training camp with the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors cut him, and he decided to take the D-League route over going to Europe and believes he made a wise decision.
“Definitely. I always believed that I could play at this level, so I kind of opted out of going overseas first and wanted to try here since I’ve been out of college,” said Ubiles, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., who is half Puerto Rican. “So far, so good. It’s working out pretty good. I’m looking forward to just keep working and working with these guys while I’m here and make the most of it.
“I’ve been out for a year and this is my first season back,” he said, “so it helped me a lot just getting experience and getting reps and to have this opportunity now, I’m looking forward to taking advantage of it.”