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  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Demetrius Denzel-Dyson's role with the Mad Ants has increased following Edmond Sumner's recent departure to the Indiana Pacers. The rookie made a season-high five 3-pointers in his last game.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019 1:00 am

Mad Ants rookie is getting his shot

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

When it comes to nicknames, Demetrius Denzel-Dyson has heard just about all of them. The Mad Ants' rookie – who's been called 3-D, D3, Triple-D – has a penchant for shooting 3-pointers, so they all fit.

Just don't call him Meech, as did his college teammates at Samford; he hates that one. The Mad Ants call him Trips and he's OK with that.

What you can call Denzel-Dyson is an up-and-coming standout with the Mad Ants. His season numbers may not blow you away – he's played in 26 games, starting five, and averaged 6.5 points, 2.7 rebounds and 17.4 minutes – but he's becoming increasingly important.

With Edmond Sumner called to the Pacers for the rest of the season in the wake of Victor Oladipo's injury, that's likely to hold steady.

“It's going good. I'm learning,” Denzel-Dyson said. “It's my first year, but I'm trying to get adjusted to the pro game. I've learned a lot from my older teammates about just being professionals, just picking their brains, figuring out what I need to do. I feel like I'm playing better and better with the opportunities that are being given to me.”

The Mad Ants (15-14), who lead the Central Division heading into Friday's 7 p.m. game at Memorial Coliseum against Raptors 905 (19-12), are coming off a 116-102 road victory over the Canton Charge. In it, Denzel-Dyson, 23, tied a career high with 15 points, making 5 of 11 shots, and he had season highs in makes (5) and attempts (9) from 3-point range.

One of the big things Denzel-Dyson has learned this season, he said, aside from being aggressive at both ends of the court, is how to shake off a bad shooting night.

“You have to keep shooting,” he said. “I've had a few off-shooting games and I've learned from (Omari Johnson) that you can't worry about those shots; you're a shooter and just keep shooting the ball. The percentages, the numbers, they favor you.”

Denzel-Dyson is shooting 39.9 percent, including 40.2 percent from beyond the arc.

“One of the things being a rookie is understanding the NBA game, understanding spacing and understanding the speed of it,” Mad Ants coach Steve Gansey said. “What we want from him on a daily basis is understanding a whole different system than he's used to. He's continuing to get better. ... If you watch the clips of him from the beginning of the season to now, it's a big difference, big difference. He's more comfortable, understanding exactly what we want from him at both ends, and he's just got to continue working at it.”

Denzel-Dyson, who had played at Massachusetts from 2013 to 2015 before transferring to Samford, averaged 15.2 points and five rebounds as a senior, playing 30.8 minutes per game.

Even on a Fort Wayne team made up of mostly rookies and second-year players, he's had to be patient.

“It was a difference for me from coming out of college, but I wasn't worried about it,” Denzel-Dyson said. “I was still going to be a great person, off the court and on the court, cheering for my teammates and telling my teammates things maybe they don't see, coaching from the sidelines.

“And I want to be ready for when my time comes and I hope they do the same for me.”

Note: The Mad Ants' third annual Hoops & Heels event, an inspiring women's night, begins Friday at 5 p.m. The guest speaker will be Indiana Fever coach and general manager Pokey Chatman. There will be networking, dinner and the Mad Ants game for $40. Information is at fortwayne.gleague.nba.com

jcohn@jg.net