Spurs saddle up Altron

Altron Jackson wasn’t among the 58 players selected in the 2002 NBA Draft, but the former USF star will get another chance to showcase his wares for the NBA. The San Antonio Spurs have given Jackson a chance to be a part of their summer league team.

Jackson will play for the Spurs as a part of the 10-team Shaw Summer League hosted by the University of Massachusetts-Boston. The team has a seven-game schedule running from July 15-21.

Jackson culminated his career as one of the most prolific scorers in USF and Conference USA history. After four years as a Bull, Jackson tallied 2,017 points, falling short of Charlie Bradley’s 2,319 to make Jackson No. 2 on the all-time USF scoring list. His point total also makes Jackson the highest scorer in the seven-year history of C-USA, more than Steve Logan of Cincinnati, who was the 30th pick by Golden State.

For his career, Jackson averaged 16.5 points per game, making him a three-time All C-USA selection and the conference’s back-to-back Sixth Man of the Year for his sophomore and junior seasons.

“It is obviously a tremendous honor for Altron Jackson to get invited to camp with the San Antonio Spurs,” Bulls coach Seth Greenberg said. “Not getting drafted in last week’s NBA Draft doesn’t mean that Altron doesn’t have the potential to play in the NBA, it just means that he wasn’t one of the 58 players chosen.”

In addition to San Antonio, Washington, Milwaukee, Orlando, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Minnesota and Boston are sending teams to the Shaw League. The NBA also has summer leagues in Utah, Orlando and southern California.

“San Antonio is one of the elite organizations in the NBA and will potentially have roster spots available for the upcoming season,” Greenberg said. “It’s up to Altron to go into the summer league, and camp, and play hard and up to his potential. It’s a great opportunity with a great organization and head coach in Gregg Popovich.”

Among the players who will participate are former and current first rounders like New York’s Frank Williams, Milwaukee’s Joel Pryzbilla and Jared Jeffries, Juan Dixon and 2001 No. 1 overall pick Kwame Brown all from the Washington Wizards.

To make the Spurs’ 2002-03 roster, Jackson will have to face some tough competition. San Antonio’s starter at shooting guard is 13-year veteran Steve Smith, who completed his first year with the Spurs in 2002 after coming over from Portland in a trade last off-season. Smith’s 11.6 points per game in 2001-02 was the lowest total in his career. At small forward, San Antonio appears ready to resign 6-foot-7 Bruce Bowen when free agents are allowed to make contracts July 17. Bowen started 59 games for San Antonio, shooting 37.8 percent from three-point range, and continued to maintain his reputation as one of the league’s premier defenders.

The Spurs also have Charles Smith and Antonio Daniels under contract at guard and completed a draft-day trade for point guard Speedy Claxton from Philadelphia. The team is also expected to sign 1999 second-round pick Emanuel Ginobili, a 6-foot-6 guard from Argentina. Since being drafted, Ginobili has been refining his game in Europe, where he’s become a star for Kinder Virtus Bologna of the Italian A1 League, earning MVPs in the Italian League and the Euroleague Final Four.