Posted on: December 28, 2015
By Adam Williams
Posted with Permission of Kamloops This Week
Ta’Quan Zimmerman is living his dream of playing professional basketball.
But, the former Thompson Rivers WolfPack all-star hasn’t lost sight of the ultimate prize on the horizon.
Playing in the NBA Development League (D-League), the NBA’s official minor league, Zimmerman is in the midst of his second professional season with the Idaho Stampede, the minor-league affiliate of the Utah Jazz.
And, though he’s earning a living playing basketball, the end goal is still to don a jersey in the NBA.
“It’s definitely a dream come true,” Zimmerman said from Los Angeles, where he was practising for a matchup between his Stampede and the LA D-Fenders, the affiliate of the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I still want to be a part of the NBA, I’ve still got one more step to take, but it’s pretty close.
“To just be surrounded by NBA players, NBA staff almost every day is a dream come true.”
Zimmerman left the WolfPack following the 2013-2014 campaign, his only year in Kamloops and a season in which he led Thompson Rivers to the first Canada West playoff berth in franchise history.
He was named a first-team Canada West all-star, averaging 19.6 points per game — second-best in the conference — 4.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.
The Pack, meanwhile, finished third in the Pacific Division, boasting a 13-9 record — their best to that point as a Canadian Interuniversity Sport team.
“I followed my heart when I went up to Canada,” Zimmerman said, reflecting on his time in Kamloops.
“I didn’t know anything about it, I don’t know why I went up there, but something told me to go up there. I feel like all things happen for a reason, so I guess I’m glad I went up there.”
Though he had two more years of eligibility following his debut at TRU, Zimmerman left the club and declared for the 2014 NBA Draft — he passed through both the NBA’s and the D-League’s drafts unselected.
It was just another hiccup in the 24-year-old’s circuitous road to the ranks of professional basketball — though he was later signed by the Stampede as a free-agent.
Zimmerman is a player who bounced around the college ranks in the United States — the American was born in Waterbury, Conn. — before landing in Kamloops. Injuries and academic issues had threatened to sideline him throughout his young career but, in the Tournament Capital, he thrived.
Now, one step from the NBA, he can joke about what were no doubt troubling times.
“I had a lot of roadblocks and, if I could recommend [one thing] to anybody, don’t take my road because it’s a tough road to take,” Zimmerman said with a laugh.
“I persevered. I kind of took all the negative things that I heard and that came my way and that stopped me at one point in time and I channelled it into a positive and just built on it and kept fighting.
“Then, one day, I got the phone call and the dream I had of being a professional came true.”
Zimmerman has been coming off the bench thus far in the 2015-2016 D-League season, but through five games has averaged 4.6 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists with Idaho.
He said staying consistent will be the key to his finally cracking an NBA roster and he’s focused on continuing to learn from the coaches and professionals around him, many of whom were NBA draftees and have already had a taste of the big leagues.
Zimmerman has fond memories of his time in Kamloops and credits WolfPack head coach Scott Clark with helping him get to where he is now — playing professional basketball nightly, in front of 2,500 fans or more.
“I learned a lot at Thompson Rivers University, believe it or not,” Zimmerman said.
“Just playing in a real structured system was very good for me, with coach Clark being, not strict, but hard — he wanted things right. That was good. Playing hard every possession, multiple efforts, really carried over.
“You wouldn’t be able to tell that I didn’t play at a big-time school like everyone else on my roster did.”
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