April 18, 2014 in Sports

Former Gonzaga standout Matt Bouldin plays key role for Fort Wayne Mad Ants

Justin A. Cohn Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Associated Press photo

The Mad Ants’ Matt Bouldin, right, steals the ball from Reno’s Walker Russell, Jr., during an NBA D-League first-round playoff game.
(Full-size photo)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Fort Wayne Mad Ants have so many good players that it might be easy to forget Matt Bouldin.

They have so many guards, especially, that the same might hold true.

But Bouldin’s contributions are a big reason the top-seeded Mad Ants (34-16) are in the D-League semifinals. He scored 14 points and provided 6 assists in Fort Wayne’s 113-111 comeback win in game one of their best-of-three series against fourth-seeded Sioux Falls (31-19) on Thursday at Sioux Falls, S.D.

“We have so many weapons on this team,” Bouldin said. “Every night someone can come out and have a big game. It’s not just Ron Howard, Tony Mitchell, Will Frisby or Trey McKinney-Jones. Every night, somebody can do it, and I don’t feel like I’m getting overlooked.”

In the first-round sweep of Reno, Bouldin averaged 16 points, second on the team to Mitchell’s 19. Bouldin had a team-best seven assists per game and also averaged six rebounds, as the regular-season champion Mad Ants got the first playoff series win in the franchise’s seven seasons.

His four steals per game lead everyone in the D-League playoffs.

The Mad Ants acquired Bouldin, a 26-year-old former Gonzaga player, in a Feb. 14 trade with the Delaware 87ers for a second-round pick in this year’s draft. While it looked like it was to provide depth behind Howard, Mitchell and McKinney-Jones, Bouldin has been more than that.

He averaged 12.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 18 regular-season games, starting 13 of them.

“They have done an unbelievable job of welcoming me. And every game, I feel more comfortable out there,” said the 6-foot-5, 215-pound Bouldin. “Whether it’s the play calls or the defense of my teammates, it’s going well.

“There are a lot of guys on our team that would be starting for most teams in this league,” Bouldin said. “We’re such a well-balanced team, and it’s going to help us in the long run.”

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