Damian Lillard has been working hard since leaving Weber State after his junior season — preparing for the NBA draft, getting taken sixth by Portland, winning co-MVP of the Summer League, playing preseason games as the Trail Blazers’ starting point guard.
Next week, Damian will take a few hours off from his new NBA schedule to return to the school that helped him become a rising star.
Lillard announced Monday on Twitter that he will attend Weber State’s Purple and White game, its annual preseason scrimmage, which is scheduled for Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. at the Dee Events Center in Ogden.
"Definitely going to the Weber State purple and White game," he wrote.
Lillard will also play a preseason game against the Utah Jazz the following night, Oct.25, in Salt Lake City, three days after the Jazz and Blazers face off in another contest in Portland.
Had the NBA not come calling, Lillard would have been playing with the Wildcats in this Purple and White game, preparing to chase his third Big Sky Conference MVP award as well as the all-time scoring records for Weber State and the league.
That all changed when Lillard returned from his injury more explosive than ever and became the second-leading scorer in the country, averaging 24.5 points per game and playing in front of a multitude of NBA scouts.
Lillard would have been eligible to play at WSU this season because of a medical hardship waiver received from the NCAA after a broken foot sidelined him for most of the 2010-11 season, but the chance to chase his NBA dream was too much to pass up.
After he announced his intention to enter the draft, Lillard’s performance at the Chicago combine convinced the Trail Blazers to make him their No. 1 draft choice and led Portland general manager Neil Olshey to proclaim, "We found our franchise point guard."
Lillard continued to impress in Summer League games in Las Vegas, averaging a league-best 26.5 points, 5.3 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game to earn co-MVP honors.
Facing the Lakers and future Hall of Famer Steve Nash in his first preseason game Oct. 10, Lillard scored 14 points and dished seven assists in a 93-75, leading The Oregonian’s Blazers beat writer Joe Freeman to dub him "The Future."
Other analysts believe Lillard’s scoring ability combined with his playing time as a starter will make him a contender for NBA Rookie of the Year.
In Monday’s preseason matchup against the Sacramento Kings, Lillard scored a team-high 20 points, going 6 for 8 from the field in the second half, including three consecutive 3-pointers and an and-1.
The highest NBA draft pick in Weber State history followed his announcement on Twitter (@Dame_Lillard) with a question: "Who’s all going to the weber state basketball purple and white game with me?"