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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Joel Ayayi signs with Orlando Magic, reunites with ex-Gonzaga teammate Jalen Suggs

Sept. 12, 2022 Updated Mon., Sept. 12, 2022 at 10:04 p.m.

Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs (1) helps up Gonzaga guard Joel Ayayi (11) after multiple player fell during a play during the second half of a college basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in the McCarthey Athletic Center.  (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs (1) helps up Gonzaga guard Joel Ayayi (11) after multiple player fell during a play during the second half of a college basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

From staff reports

Just like the Memphis Grizzlies and Washington Wizards, the Orlando Magic could become appointment viewing for Gonzaga basketball fans next NBA season.

Three weeks after Joel Ayayi was acquired by the G-League Lakeland Magic, the former Bulldogs guard signed an NBA contract with the Orlando Magic, reuniting him with college teammate Jalen Suggs.

Ayayi’s addition was announced by the team’s public relations department Monday evening. Terms of the deal were not disclosed per team policy, but Ayayi will wear No. 17 for the Magic according to a press release.

With Suggs and Ayayi teaming up, Orlando may be the third NBA team with multiple ex-Zags on its roster this season. Forwards Brandon Clarke and Killian Tillie are preparing for another season with the Memphis Grizzlies while former GU teammates Rui Hachimura and Corey Kispert both project to have key roles with the Washington Wizards.

Ayayi, who finished the 2021-22 season with the Capital City Go-Go – a G-League affiliate of the Wizards – was part of a three-team trade that sent the France native to the Lakeland Magic on Aug. 25. The deal does not necessarily guarantee Ayayi a roster spot for the 2022-23 season, but he’ll have a chance to compete for a permanent role during training camp.Orlando’s roster currently lists nine guards, but only three of those – Terrence Ross, Markelle Fultz and Gary Harris – have more than two years of NBA experience. One of those is Suggs, the former fifth overall draft pick who missed chunks of his rookie NBA season while battling through injuries.

Since going undrafted last year, Ayayi has now been with four NBA organizations in different capacities. The former All-WCC First Teamer and WCC Tournament Most Outstanding Player was signed as a free agent by the Los Angeles Lakers, playing preseason games with the franchise before being waived.

In 29 games with Capital City, Ayayi averaged 10.7 points, 6.6 assists and 5.7 rebounds last season, logging 30.9 minutes per game. He also made seven appearances for the Wizards.

Ayayi joined the Atlanta Hawks for NBA Summer League action in Las Vegas, averaging 5.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg and 2.4 apg in five appearances.

Monday’s news caps off an eventful summer for Ayayi, who told The Spokesman-Review in Vegas he and his wife Yustina were expecting the birth of their first child, a boy, in late July.

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