Having previously received recent unexpected value from an undrafted prospect out of Oakland University, the Miami Heat have moved in that direction again.
The Heat on Friday signed guard Jamal Cain to an Exhibit 10 contract, which will allow the summer-league prospect to attend training camp and then potentially receive a small guarantee if he moves on to the team’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
Cain went undrafted out of Oakland University last month, agreeing to play in summer league for the Heat shortly thereafter. He follows in the footsteps of former Oakland guard Kendrick Nunn, who thrived as a Heat rookie in 2019-20 after going undrafted in 2018 out of the Detroit-area school.
“It raised my confidence to a whole different level,” Cain said of following in the path of Nunn. “And I actually talked to Kendrick, as well, just about like how it is and what I need to do in order to be successful here. And he told me a lot; he helped me a lot.”
Cain, 23 played four seasons at Marquette before finishing his college eligibility at Oakland.
He then went for eight points and five rebounds in the Heat’s summer-league opener on July 2 against the Los Angeles Lakers at the California Classic, only to then be sidelined by COVID, forced to quarantine at a San Francisco hotel.
“You talk about unfortunate,” said Heat assistant coach Malik Allen, who is guiding the Heat summer roster. “He was like one of the lone bright spots in our Lakers game. And that night, he’s not feeling good. Then he finds out he had COVID.”
Cain missed three games before rejoining the Heat at the NBA Las Vegas Summer League.
“To start off, those six days were probably the longest six days I think I’d ever experienced,” Cain said. “Finding out I had COVID was like heartbreaking for me, because I was just so excited to be out here and hoop with these guys. But things happen. You got to deal with it. You got to find a way to get better from it.”
At 6 feet 7, Cain offers a rangy wing presence. He averaged 19.9 points on .499 shooting and 10.2 rebounds last season in being named Horizon League co-Player of the Year, his conference’s lone player to average double figures in points and rebounds.
“They just like that I can guard multiple positions, the way I can defend, the way I can kind of be all over the floor,” Cain said of his feedback from the Heat. “Just play to my strengths, trying to be athletic on the wing, trying to take advantage of the mismatches and stuff like that.”
The signing of Cain gives the Heat 18 players under contract, two shy of the NBA offseason maximum. That number effectively is 19, with veteran forward Udonis Haslem expected to return for a 20th season.
Cain joins fellow summer-league prospects Orlando Robinson and Jamaree Bouyea with Exhibit 10 tryout contracts, with the Heat able to funnel four such players directly to their G League affiliate. Like Robinson, the undrafted center out of Fresno State, and Bouyea, the undrafted guard out of San Francisco, Cain is eligible to compete in training camp for a standard roster spot or a two-way contract.
Teams must trim to a maximum of 15 players under standard contract and up to two on two-way contracts by the regular-season opener.