Former NVL stars provide inspiration for today's players
If any athlete in the Naugatuck Valley League needs a source of inspiration for their dream to make it to the next level, the past two weeks have provided it.
Former Wilby basketball star Ryan Gomes and former Naugatuck pitching phenom Pat Dean have both been in the news for positive reasons.
First Gomes, after a year away from the NBA, signed a one-year contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Considering he entered the league as a second round pick underdog and had already played seven years in the league, Gomes could've moved on to the next phase of his life and been very satisfied with a successful NBA career.
But the Waterbury native is still hungry. He talked recently about his goal to make it back to the NBA, and not only did he make it, Gomes has found himself in a great spot in Oklahoma City. The Thunder, two seasons removed from the NBA Finals and led by superstar Kevin Durant, are a top title contender and a lock for the playoffs, a place Gomes has seen little of in his career.
Only in his last season with the Clippers did a team Gomes play for qualify for the postseason. And unfortunately for him, Gomes was not in the team's rotation and did not see minutes in the playoffs.
In his career, Gomes has averaged 10.2 points per game in 482 games (371 starts) for the Celtics, Timberwolves and Clippers. Phase two of his career starts now, and it looks to be in a great place.
As for Dean, his goal of reaching the Major Leagues is closer than ever. The left-hander from Naugatuck is in the Minnesota Twins organization and last week got called up to Triple A Rochester.
His Triple A debut on Monday was a smashing success.
Dean took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, and finished with a brilliant scoreless seven-inning performance against the International League's best hitting team in Durham. The first hit Dean allowed came on a bunt single. In total, he allowed two hits and three walks as Rochester prevailed, 4-2.
Dean had been pitching locally for the Twins' Double A team in New Britain. His statistics were not great for the Rock Cats - a 6-11 record and 4.68 ERA - but clearly the Twins see something in him, with his promotion as evidence.
The fall high school season is days away with practices set to begin. Local athletes need to look no further than Gomes and Dean to see what the future could possibly bring.