Without proper context, it would look strange for the Sioux Falls Skyforce to have a passionate group of supporters in Santa Cruz.
The Skyforce, the NBA G-League affiliate of the Miami Heat, will face the Santa Cruz Warriors at Kaiser Permanente Arena on Thursday night, and they’ll be doing so with a dedicated throng in the crowd.
No, there isn’t a community of snowbirds who fled the South Dakota winter for the warmer climes of Santa Cruz, nor do the Miami Heat have especially rabid fans in Northern California. The group rooting for the visiting team will be there to support Seaside native and former USF star Jamaree Bouyea, who’s making his return to the region this week.
Bouyea, who has averaged 17.2 points per game for the Skyforce between the G-League Winter Showcase and the regular season, has been with the Heat organization since going undrafted in June. He joined Miami’s summer league roster and played in the California Classic, a four-team tournament held at Chase Center to start July. Another former Don, Frankie Ferrari, played in the tournament with the Sacramento Kings.
Successful performances at the California Classic and at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas landed Bouyea an Exhibit 10 contract with the Heat, which gave him a training camp invite and a small salary guarantee. Following the expiration of the Exhibit 10 contract, Bouyea stayed with the Heat organization, and has been a mainstay in the Skyforce’s starting lineup.
Sioux Falls played at Stockton on Monday, winning 112-104 as Bouyea scored a career-high 34 points. The Skyforce will play in Santa Cruz at 7 p.m. on both Thursday and Friday. The Thursday game will be televised on NBC Sports Bay Area, and Friday’s will be shown on NBC Sports Bay Area Plus.
Ethan Kassel can be reached at [email protected]