Briante Weber has had many ups and downs in his career, but a few things have remained constant: his work ethic, his determination, and his defensive ability.
During his time at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), Weber was named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year for three straight seasons, and led the nation in steals through his junior year with an average of 3.46 per game. Everything was lining up for Weber to continue wreaking havoc in the NBA, until his senior season was cut short by both an ACL and MCL tear. He was just 12 steals shy of the all-time NCAA steals record, and would have had nine more games to hit the mark.
Weber went undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft, in large part due to the ongoing recovery from his knee injury. He was signed by the Miami HEAT on October 19, 2015 but was waived just five days later. On November 2, he was signed by the Skyforce as an affiliate player. Though NBA teams had passed on him, Weber remained confident that he would one day play at the sport’s highest level.
Weber’s enthusiasm and encouragement made him an immediate fan favorite in Sioux Falls, despite missing the first 16 games of the season while rehabbing his knee. When he was finally cleared to play, he came back with a vengeance. Weber averaged 10.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 2.1 steals per game over a 28 game span (nine starts). It didn’t take long for NBA teams to recognize what he was doing.
On March 11, 2016 Weber signed a 10-day contract with a depleted Memphis Grizzlies, and made his NBA debut on the same day. Starting at point guard, Weber recorded 10 points, seven assists and five rebounds in an overtime win against the New Orleans Pelicans.
This was just once of his assists:
— Sioux Falls Skyforce (@SFSkyforce) March 12, 2016
Weber started four of his six games with the Grizzlies and averaged 4.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game. He returned to the Skyforce when his 10-day contract expired.
On April 10, 2016 the Miami HEAT signed Weber to a multi-year contract, and he made his HEAT debut that night scoring two points and recording one rebound and one assist in just three minutes of action.
Weber remains with the HEAT, and we had the opportunity to catch up with him prior to training camp to discuss his journey back to the NBA.
Q: A knee injury cut your career at VCU short. What went through your mind during that time and throughout the rehab process?
A: Like they say, everything happens for a reason. I took it for what it was. I got better from it. I just wanted to get this point in my life where I was going to play in the NBA. That was a goal as a child and I just made it a possibility because I kept a frame of mind, I kept after it and I kept going to get it.
Q: Last year, you made a full recovery and then some. How did your time in Sioux Falls help you grow as a player and build confidence in your game?
A: It was all basketball in Sioux Falls. South Dakota was definitely a good place for me to be at that time because all I could do was focus on rehabbing and getting better as a basketball player. There’s nothing else going on out there. To be honest, it was a better living situation then what I expected and it made me better as a person. It made me humble and understand where I wanted to get to.
Q: Miami signed you for the remainder of their season in April in the middle of a D-League championship run with the Skyforce. What went through your mind at that time?
A: It was kind of mixed emotions about it. I wanted to be there with my teammates because we had been in Sioux Falls since October 31 all the way to that end. I just wanted to make it there and win a championship with my brothers. We grinded the whole season. We went through some ups and downs, but at the same time they had the champagne shower, which I was trying to be there with my guys to do it. But I watched it on television and it made me emotional. I was just in the bed like “man, I wish I was there.”
Q: What advice would you give to D-League players trying to replicate a rise to the NBA like yours? What advice would you give to players who are attempting to come back from injury as you have?
A: D-League players that are trying to get to the NBA, you can’t worry about that. At the same time, you’re given one day, 24 hours. You make the best out of your 24 hours. Always wake up in the morning and say how do I want to start my day, how do I want to go about it. What new beginning am I going to go about today? Just from that, you just got to take care of what you can take care of. Coming back from injury, you just got to want to. You got to have something with you. You can’t just be doing it just cause you feel like everybody else is doing it. You got to take it upon yourself and work hard and get back to where you were so you can be a better person at the end of the day.
"And then…" pic.twitter.com/Um64AFpc5a
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) September 30, 2016
Weber has continued to make an impact throughout the 2016 preseason for a revamped Miami HEAT roster. Through six games, he has averaged 3.3 points, 2.8 steals, 2.7 assists, and 1.2 rebounds in roughly 15 minutes per contest. In an offensive minded era, Weber continues to change each game by stuffing the stat sheet. His well-rounded game, and defensive mindset, are things he’s always taken pride in and something he will look to continue as his career progresses.