Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)
Daeqwon Plowden long ago introduced himself to the Philadelphia basketball community
Over the past five seasons, the teams of the Mid-American Conference became very familiar with his name as well.
The former Mastery North and Bowling Green star introduced himself to any who still needed an introduction this summer.
From highlight dunks to pure production he established himself as a young player to keep an eye on with the New Orleans Pelicans Summer League team.
Mastery North grad Daeqwon Plowden signed an Exhibit 10 deal with the Pelicans after playing for them in the summer league. (Photo: Courtesy New Orleans Pelicans)
His reward was an Exhibit 10 contract with the Pelicans and a chance to once again prove himself during training camp in the fall.
“It’s big,” Plowden said. “Being under the radar for a little bit and going into summer league not really knowing what to expect but coming out with something as good as what I got, it’s exciting.”
“It’s really cool,” he added. "It just goes to show that when you do put the work in and get an opportunity and seize the moment the right way, somebody is going to see you and somebody is going to believe that you can flourish in their system.”
Plowden worked out for the Washington Wizards, Utah Jazz and Pelicans before the NBA Draft. He went undrafted, so the opportunity with the Pelicans’ summer league team was his shot to prove himself to NBA teams.
Plowden saw action in three games in Las Vegas. In just more than 16 minutes per game, the 6-foot-6 guard averaged 12 ppg and 4 rpg and shot 65 percent from the floor — 78 percent from 2-point range and 50 percent from 3-point range.
“I felt like when I got out there and just how I prepared myself for that one moment where I get to prove myself, I felt like everything slowed down for me and that made it easier,” Plowden said. “I feel like guys get out there and either try to do too much sometimes or play at a pace that’s not comfortable for them.
“Being in my situation coming in there not on any contract or anything like that, I felt like I played the right way when I was out there. I felt like I had control over what I was doing, control over the game.”
Plowden, a Germantown-area native, was Mastery North’s first 1,000-point scorer when he graduated in 2017. He was a two-time all-state and All-Public League selection, helping the Pumas to a PIAA Class 2A title game appearance in 2016.
He said he entered Bowling Green as a defensive minded player and saw his offensive game mature season-by-season. This past season in his fifth year with the program, Plowden led the team in scoring (15.7 ppg), rebounding (6.8 rpg) and blocks (37). He was named to the MAC All-Defensive Team and All-MAC third team this past season.
Plowden finished his college career with 1,618 career points (eighth in program history), 935 rebounds (fourth) and 126 blocks (fourth).
“This fifth year, it was kind of like my turn to run our team and lead our team,” Plowden said. “When it’s a situation like that, you gotta see everything differently and take steps moving forward. It was a big step for me in terms of leadership, being the go-to guy.”
Daeqwon Plowden thinks his defensive ability is what will help him stick at the next level. (Photo: Courtesy New Orleans Pelicans)
Still, his defensive roots and underdog mentality are what he believes attracted the Pelicans.
“I think they really like how playing defense is something I really take pride in and how well I compete on the court,” Plowden said. “I feel like that’s a big one and that’s going to translate into NBA systems very easily.”
Plowden has embraced the whole process since graduating from Bowling Green. He was a standout during the NTX combine early in the draft process in May and later trained with Matthew Bender in Louisiana for a month in preparation for the draft.
During NBA workouts and Summer League, he enjoyed testing himself against the players he’d watched during the NCAA Tournament earlier in the spring.
“You dream of this moment and a lot of people don’t get to go through it,” Plowden said. “I don’t want to be the one to take it for granted. Honestly, I just feel like all of it has been really memorable to me. “
Plowden is currently living in Bowling Green, but he said he hoped to get home to Philly at some point, where he has plenty of supporters prepared to cheer him on for the next step of his basketball journey.
He isn’t sure exactly when training camp starts, but he will head back to New Orleans in the fall looking to prove himself once again. The Exhibit 10 contract is guaranteed money, but the team also has a chance to turn that into a two-way contract before the season that would allow him to bounce between the G-League and NBA.
“We plan to play for a roster spot, but we’re just trying to take it step by step and be realistic with ourselves and understand that we have to ultimately fight to get that roster spot,” Plowden said.
“It’s still a fairly new process for me just going through the summer league was a thing. It’s just taking it step by step. It’s training camp first and then we’ll go from there. Whatever the GM and team wants.”
He won’t look too far ahead, but Plowden knows he isn’t far removed from potentially realizing an NBA dream.
“It’s truly amazing. It’s a blessing,” Plowden said. “As I was talking to my family and talking to my agent, it still didn’t hit me yet that we’re kind of close to being able to achieve that dream. I’m still being where my feet are, living in this moment and trying to enjoy it while I’m going through it because everybody doesn’t get this chance to be this close to it.”