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Zach Lofton looks for staying power with Pistons

Zach Lofton looks for staying power with Pistons
Published On: Wed, Oct 10
Apr 12, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Members of the Houston Rockets Power Dancers perform during the game between the Rockets and the New Orleans Pelicans at the Toyota Center. The Rockets defeated the Pelicans 121-114. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

In the Pistonsa€™ locker room, the veterans value their space, often taking two lockers to store their extra clothes and gear.

Not far from Blake Griffina€™s and Andre Drummonda€™s is rookie Zach Loftona€™s locker.

The placement is by design, to give the young player some veterans to guide and mentor him. Ita€™s an extra lifeline to make sure that Lofton, 25, doesna€™t fall through the cracks or potentially give in to the temptations off the court that can derail the talent that Lofton flashes when he has the ball in his hands.

There was the flash of seven pointsA in Wednesdaya€™s game against the Brooklyn Nets, when he had a drive through the lane for a highlight-worthy dunk. There was the flash of a solid 21-point performance against the Lakers in Summer League, where Lofton averaged 10.8 points.

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On the other side, there are the question marks about Loftona€™s commitment. He bounced from San Jacinto (Texas)A College to Illinois State, then he sat out a year after transferring to Minnesota. Before he played a game with the Gophers, Lofton was kicked off the team and moved on in 2016 to Texas Southern, whom he helped reach the NCAA Tournament. From there, he went to New Mexico State for his senior season, where he averaged 20.1 points and fiveA rebounds and was named first-team all-conference.

Five years. Five schools.

Even more questions.

Lofton, a 6-foot-4 guard, landed with the Pistons as a free agent after going undrafted. Hea€™s not on a guaranteed NBA contract, nor does he have a two-way contract, which would keep him protected in the development league with the Grand Rapids Drive. His opportunity is with an Exhibit 10 contract, which pays him up to a $50,000 bonus, in addition to the $7,000 per month he could earn by staying with the Drive.

It's a chance, but there are no guarantees. With that opportunity comes another chance a€” but also plenty of questions about his past.

Lofton has an answer.

a€œThata€™s a long story. It was immaturity. Ia€™m growing up and learning more and listening to people around me and trying to move forward,a€ Lofton said. a€œWhen you point the finger all the time, ita€™s four fingers pointing back. I can look in the mirror and say, a€˜Zach, it might be a little bit of you.a€™

a€œI take ownership for that and I actually started listening to the people who wanted to help me. Ia€™ve had people who have wanted to help me all my life, but listening is what has helped me the most.a€

Enter Pistons coach Dwane Casey and the Pistonsa€™ front office, who saw Loftona€™s scoring ability, but also saw an opportunity to help him get on the right track. The warning signs were there, but Casey didna€™t beat around the bush when trying to assess where Loftona€™s head is.

Read the complete news article here...

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