Admiral Schofield, Now a Magic Two-Way Player, Benefitted From Being Part of Lakeland’s Winning Culture
ORLANDO – Less than two minutes into the second quarter of the Orlando Magic’s recent game at Chicago, Admiral Schofield caught a pass on the perimeter from Hassani Gravett, took one dribble to his left, and then quickly shifted to his right by going between the legs before connecting on a floater over the outstretched arms of MVP candidate DeMar DeRozan.
Later in the game with the Magic on defense, the 6-foot-5 Schofield picked up Zach LaVine beyond the 3-point line and used his lateral quickness to prevent the Bulls’ All-Star from zipping past him. LaVine, one of the game’s most prolific scorers, had to settle for a Schofield-contested step-back jumper that grazed the rim.
Those plays, which are just examples, underscore Schofield’s effectiveness on both ends of the floor since getting called up to the Magic in mid-December after appearing in 12 games for Orlando’s G League affiliate.
The fruits of his labor are paying off. The Magic, impressed by his work ethic, positive attitude, strong body, and unique skillset, decided keeping him in house was a good idea as they signed him to a two-way contract on Thursday after the last of two 10-day hardship exception contracts expired.
“To make the most of it is just a blessing,” he said. “I love the direction this organization is going. Under (President of Basketball Operations) Jeff Weltman and coach (Jamahl) Mose (Mosley) and the leadership that these guys have, I just think with me being on this team I can add to that culture, help further that culture, and my mindset now is just helping that culture advance as far as being tough, being hard-playing, (and being one of the) guys that comes in and works and plays hard every night. That’s my job and that’s why I’m here…I’m just excited for the opportunity. Blue is my favorite color, so it looks good on me.”
Schofield’s NBA journey has been filled with ups and downs – literally. In his first season with the Washington Wizards, whom the Magic will play twice in a row this upcoming week, he split time playing for the Wizards and the Capital City Go-Go, Washington’s G League squad. Before his second season started, he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, who waived him immediately.
He was the first overall pick in last winter’s G League Draft by the Greensboro Swarm, with whom he appeared in 14 games and averaged 10.1 points and 5.7 rebounds. Following a summer league stint with the Atlanta Hawks, he signed on with the Magic for training camp, and then hooked on with their G League team in Lakeland.
Playing in Lakeland meant a great deal to Schofield, whose brother is O’Brien Schofield, a former NFL linebacker who won a Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks. Being a part of a winning culture, which Lakeland takes immense pride in having, helped the 24-year-old build a stronger mentality, which he’s carried over with him to Orlando.
“Having the G League championship last year – just the mindset of winning. It’s a culture,” he said. “They’ve built it well in Lakeland. A little bit of what’s happening in Lakeland is bleeding up here as well, and it starts with coach Mose, and it starts with the staff, and it starts with the front office as well. But the guys are doing a great job of trying to really build this culture here of winning…It’s not about the end score all the time. It’s about the little things. It’s about continually fighting until the end. Still playing with the same intensity for 48 minutes…Those are some of the things that Lakeland hangs their hats on, and I know (Orlando) hangs their hat on that too and are really trying to build and instill that in this culture.”
It gives Mosley comfort knowing that young players are in good hands in Lakeland. The more he’s gotten to know Joe Barrer, who is in his first season at the helm in Lakeland after serving as one of Stan Heath’s assistants the last few years, the more confident he’s become in that program and what he and his Lakeland staff stand for.
“They do a great job down there teaching and getting their guys to play the right way,” Mosley said. “Understanding the things that we are asking for here, and then being able to implement it. I just really believe the communication that we have with them, and the connection that we continue to have with the Lakeland Magic, it’s just perfect for us to be able to have guys walk in somewhat seamlessly.”
Coming into this season, Lakeland had recorded 94 regular season victories since beginning play in 2017, tied for the most in the G League during that span. Inside the Disney bubble last spring, they reached the pinnacle of success by winning the franchise’s very first championship.
Several of the Magic’s players being in health and safety protocols these last few weeks gave a few of Lakeland’s players, including Schofield, an opportunity to showcase their talent on a bigger stage. Gravett played well in his time in Orlando, averaging 6.3 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists in eight games. B.J. Johnson also thrived, scoring an NBA career-high 14 points in a win over the Hawks in one of the four games he appeared in before entering health and safety protocols.
The short drive between Orlando and Lakeland makes it convenient for players and front office staff to commute back and forth between Amway Center and the RP Funding Center. In his rookie season, Jonathan Isaac played in two games for Lakeland after recovering from an ankle injury. Chuma Okeke, although he didn’t play in any games, spent an entire year rehabbing a knee injury in Lakeland.