Before the contract. Before draft night. Before the Sweet 16 and the Pac 12 and before the high school state championship.
There was a young kid named Josh Huestis from Great Falls, Montana, with a dream of playing in the NBA.
On Thursday, that kid made his dream a reality, signing a rookie contract to play for the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder.
“To me it’s a just an amazing accomplishment, I feel like I’ve done exactly what I set out to do,” Huestis said. “I’m just happy that I was able to take this past year and really learn be a better player and it all paid off.”
The past year was full of uncertainty for the former CMR Rustler.
Huestis became the NBA’s first-ever domestic ‘draft & stash’ prospect -- agreeing with the Thunder to forgo his rookie contract last year and instead head to the D-League.
Many questioned the decision, but Josh believed all along that this was the right choice for him. And now he’s validated.
“To me it was just a matter of knowing what I did was the best for me,” Huestis said. “Ninety-nine percent of people didn’t know the entire story of what was behind it. For me it was about more than just the money, it was an opportunity to better my career. I think now that people see how it worked out they will understand why I did what I did.”
Now Huestis can focus on fitting in on a stacked Thunder team that features super stars like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
“They’ve said their congratulations and it’s great to hear from guys like that, the leaders of the team. I think I’m going to be great fit for the team both on and off the court. We all share the same goals the same morals and standards that’s why we’re all here. I’m really optimistic about being able to fit in with everybody.”
And of course, any NBA contract comes with a life-changing salary. Huestis signed a guaranteed rookie deal with the Thunder worth around a $1 million per year.
But his first priority is to take care of those who took care of him.
“The first people that come to mind are my parents. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am at all. Everything that I’ve ever wanted to do they’ve been behind me 100%. They’ve shelled out countless amounts of money to send me to camps, send me to tournaments. I’m just glad I have a chance to make it all worth it and to pay them back for what they’ve done for me.”
Through this process, the Thunder added an entire state’s worth of fans. And Huestis can’t wait to show Montana, Oklahoma City, and the world what he’s capable of.
“One great thing about Montana is that anyone who does anything from there gets the support of the entire state. It makes me so happy that everyone is so proud. I just want to make everyone back home proud and do the best that I can.”