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Justin Harper, surprise of Brooklyn Nets training camp, talks about the opportunity

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Harper was the next-to-last player the Nets signed to a training camp contract.  No guarantee, just meal and housing money.  Still, the 6'10" forward has been the biggest surprise of camp and while it's hard to see him breaking through the roster logjam, he's shown NBA skills ... and now some gratitude for the opportunity.

He spoke with the University of Richmond's athletic department about his experience so far, noting how much he's learned from the team's coaching staff, particularly Lionel Hollins.

"I think it's a tremendous learning experience for me, personally. Following all of the success that he had in Memphis and throughout his coaching career. I have a lot to learn defensively, and I can definitely get better on the defensive side of the ball, emphasizing playing within the team and playing together ... I think there's a good culture here, and I'm glad to be a part of it."

Hollins has certainly given Harper minutes. In the two games vs. NBA teams, the Richmond native has played 47 minutes, scored 17 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and handed out five assists, leading the team with three on Saturday vs. Philadelphia. He's shot 41.2 percent overall.

Harper was on the Nets short list before the 2011 draft, both as a late first and early second round possibility. He wound up being taken by the Cavaliers, then traded to Orlando where he played just 14 games before playing for teams in France, Israel and Italy, where he averaged 12.9 points and shot 37.5 percent from deep.