Sutton relishes in 'dirty work' for Tulsa 66ers
BY KEVIN HENRY World Correspondent
Friday, December 21, 2012
12/21/12 at 6:06 AM
With defense as one of their foundational building blocks, the Tulsa 66ers and Oklahoma City Thunder didn't need to look far in the first round of the 2012 NBA Development League draft to find a player who perfectly fit that mentality.
Described as the "motor of the team" by Tulsa coach Darko Rajakovic, 6-foot-5 guard Dominique Sutton has certainly made his presence felt on the defensive end of the court through the 66ers' first nine games. He will look to continue that trend this weekend when the Iowa Energy and Canton Charge visit the SpiritBank Event Center for games on Friday and Saturday.
"I enjoy being the guy no one talks about," Sutton said. "I like to guard and I like to defend. My pet peeve is when I get scored upon. I hate that. I can live with scoring 10 points a game, but I want the man I was guarding to only score four points and have all of those come from the free-throw line."
Sutton's defensive intensity has been on display for Tulsa as he leads the team in steals at 2.6 per game while he ranks third on the team in scoring and rebounding, averaging 13.4 points and 6.9 rebounds per outing.
"I like being the garbage guy and I like doing the dirty work underneath," Sutton said. "I love doing what I do. I'll do whatever it takes."
That "whatever it takes" mentality carries over for Sutton off the court as well. After helping Kansas State reach the Elite Eight of the 2010 NCAA Tournament, things looked promising for Sutton and the Wildcats to make a run at even greater glory the following season. But something bigger loomed in Sutton's mind: His family back in North Carolina, including two young daughters.
With one year remaining at Kansas State, Sutton was released from his scholarship in Manhattan so he could transfer closer to home. Sutton sat out for a season before playing his senior campaign for North Carolina Central.
"That year off was rough," Sutton said. "I love to play and sitting there was rough, but I had a chance to learn the game and understand it more from a different view. I still practiced hard and improved my game."
That improvement paid off for Sutton, who became a 2012 first-team Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference selection, averaging 16.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 2.2 steals per game during his final college campaign.
"(Going to North Carolina Central) was a tough decision, but it was the best one I could make at the time," Sutton recalled. "I talked to my family and it felt like it was the right decision. I'm still a (Kansas State) Wildcat deep down. That program did so much for me and it was hard to leave, but I believed that at the end of the day, scouts will find you, no matter where you are."
The scouts did find Sutton, and now he is focused on making the most of his time in Tulsa.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for me and I am enjoying every minute of it," Sutton said. "It's a dream of mine to play in the NBA. I know I have a chance right now to work on my game and keep improving and I want to make the most of it."
Original Print Headline: Sutton relishes in 'dirty work' for 66ers
66ers up next
Vs. Iowa 7 p.m. Friday
Radio: KYAL am1300