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Milton Doyle: Nets’ latest attempt at striking G-League gold

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Brooklyn Nets

The first person Milton Doyle called after signing his two-way contract with his mother, who has been displaying her support for her son on social media upon receiving the deal, accompanied by the hashtag #PROUDMOM.

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She has many reasons to be excited, as does her son, who said Monday that he’s ‘just happy to make her proud.’

“She’s excited, she’s more excited than me,” Doyle said with a smile after Monday’s Nets practice, his first on a new two-way deal. “Just happy I could make her proud. It’s one step closer to my goal. It’s a big time move – I pretty much knew about it when everybody else knew about it."

To make room for Doyle, the Nets waived French guard Yakuba Ouattara, who previously had one of the team’s two two-way deals. It’s a boost in income for Doyle. For the Nets, it means there will be no poaching by any of the NBA’s 29 other teams. Nets now control Doyle’s rights. He’ll continue to play mostly at Nassau Coliseum, but he is now on the roster.

In one way, Doyle is like Spencer Dinwiddie, Sean Kilpatrick and Quincy Acy before him — D-Leaguers who were called up mid-season — or Joe Harris who was signed in the off-season after being yo-yo’ed between the NBA and D-League the season before.

In another way, Doyle is unique. Those guys had been playing for other teams’ affiliates. The 6’4” Chicago native is the product of the Nets own development system. They scouted him, put him on their summer league roster, brought him to training camp and added him to the Long Island Nets. It’s the first time that’s happened!

Bottom line, though, is that Doyle is another attempt by the talent-hungry Nets to prove they can discover talent by whatever means necessary.

Doyle earned his one-year, two-way contract —made official Monday morning— by pushing himself. Like the other gems the Nets found in the D or G-League, the 24-year-old Loyola Chicago standout wasn’t an overnight success either.

Doyle began his college tenure in the 2013-14 season after a roundabout college recruiting saga. He first agreed to play for Florida International under Isiah Thomas, but after Thomas was let go, he joined Bill Self at Kansas. After a summer at Kansas, he returned to Chicago, but had to sit out a year.

After that, he was a four-year starter while at Loyola. In those four years, and 121 games (98 starts), Doyle averaged 13.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game. In his senior year, he averaged 15.2 but went undrafted.

Doyle shined in summer league, showing off both athleticism and range. Over the course of 16 games with the G League Long Island Nets, Doyle improved his scoring tremendously, scorching the NBA’s minor league for 21.3 points, 5.8 boards, 4.1 assists and 1.3 steals.

While his field goal shooting remained about the same as it was in college (around 44%), his long-range shooting improved from 34.4% in his four years at Loyola to 38% in the G League. He had the greenlight.

The continuity between the Long Island Nets, led by head coach Ronald Nored, and the parent club, should be an easy adjustment for Doyle once he gets in an NBA game.

"Playing down there and getting a lot of minutes I think helped me kind of adjust and prepare for this level,” Doyle said. "I think it's the same style of play. They want you to push the ball and just run the floor and just bring a lot of energy.

“Everybody always talks about how Brooklyn has a lot of glue guys that helps everybody out. I think we've got the same group of guys. So it's kind of like an easy adjustment coming up to play here."

Kenny Atkinson in particular was impressed with Doyle’s showing as a member of the Nets summer league team last July. In four Las Vegas summer league contests, Doyle averaged 10.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in 16.4 minutes per contest while shooting 56.7% from the field and 50% from three-point land.

"I think he came out if nowhere like, who is this guy?” Atkinson reflected about watching Doyle in Vegas. “Not going to a big school - surprising athleticism, surprising feel to score the ball and make passes. Obviously, I think physically, he's got a ways to go. He's got to get stronger, he's got to defend better, but I'm thrilled, I'm a big fan.

“I can't wait for him to get in our practices,” he continued. “I saw him today. I saw him play a ton of minutes in Long Island, which is great, that's what the G-league is for. I think Ronald and his staff did a great job.”

When discussing what he anticipates his role being, Doyle, seemingly soft-spoken, kept it simple. He just wants to be one of Brooklyn’s man glue guys on the roster.

"Just help these guys out, keep their spirits up, bring the energy on the court, playing defense, staying aggressive and making some shots,” said Doyle.

Isaiah Whitehead isn’t on a two-way deal, but has been back-and-forth between the two Net teams one billion and a half times, much like Chris McCullough was last season.

Doyle knows that this could be him, and he even jokes with Whitehead about the situation. But he says he’ll be ready.

“If I get to come up here and play, call at three or four in the morning, I’ll be here,” Doyle said with a smirk. “It’s just something to get used to. It’s a different level so I really don’t have any complaints about it. I’m just happy to be here.”