Medford's E.J. Singler set the tone early and then brought the house down late to claim the NBA Developmental League's 3-point contest title Saturday afternoon in New Orleans.
A first-year Idaho Stampede player, designated to the NBADL team by the Portland Trail Blazers, Singler pulled off his triumph during All-Star activities for the NBA and NBA D-League by scorching the nets with his final "money ball" rack during a championship duel with Troy Daniels.
Singler made his final three shots in the left corner to complete his comeback and edge Daniels, 19-18.
"It was a very good experience and really cool," Singler said during a break from All-Star activities Saturday. "I'm just happy I was able to pull it out and get the win."
Players were given one minute to get through five ball-rack stations set up behind the 3-point line, one in each corner, one near each wing and one straight away from the basket. Five balls were on each rack for a total of 25 possible shots, with five of those balls also designated "money balls" and worth two points per make instead of the regular one point.
Singler said he took advantage of a switch in setup this year when it came to the money balls.
"They kinda switched up how the 3-point contest was this year and you could pick a rack and make it full of money balls instead of just having one money ball per rack," said Singler, who graduated from South Medford High in 2009. "I put all my money balls at the end of the 3-point contest in my last rack so I knew I'd have a chance to make up some points if I didn't do well on the ones before."
Sure enough, the 6-foot-6, 215-pound standout needed a little boost in his third and final round of shooting — made necessary when he and Daniels tied 14-all in the first go-round of the championship finals.
With Rio Grande Valley's Daniels already in with 18 points, Singler made his way around to his fifth and final rack needing to step it up if a victory was in the making, and he did just that. Singler drained the final three basketballs on his last rack — good for two points each — to finish with 19 points.
After the last shot went through, Singler was immediately mobbed by Stampede teammates Pierre Jackson and Dee Bost, who were each chosen to play in the D-League's All-Star game, as well as a host of other players courtside.
"It was pretty cool because the last rack was right where all the other All-Stars were and the two other guys on my Stampede team came on in and jumped on me and it was just a huge celebration," said Singler, who was aware that his only hope at victory was to convert his final three shots.
The NBADL'S 3-point contest field consisted of Singler, Daniels, Booker Woodfox, Patrick Christopher, Adonis Thomas and P.J. Hairston.
The former University of Oregon standout kicked off the competition with a 23-point effort and that stood as the highest score throughout the contest. Singler entered the contest averaging nearly three 3-pointers per game for the Stampede, shooting 47.5 percent from beyond the arc (57-for-120). In 22 games played, Singler is averaging 14.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game.
"It was a really cool honor my first year in the D-League to be chosen for something like this," said Singler. "Just being around all these great players here in New Orleans has been great. I'm just soaking it all in and trying to have the best experience I can."
That experience has also included floor seats for all the NBA events, which began Friday night and wrap up today with the All-Star game.
"We're getting pretty spoiled right now," Singler said with a laugh.
The Idaho Stampede (17-15) returns to action Wednesday with a home game against Maine.