‘It’s special’: Pistons sign forward Eugene Omoruyi for rest of season

Detroit News

Toronto — On the eve of his first NBA game in his home country, Eugene Omoruyi signed a contract to stay with the Pistons for the remainder of the season.

It was a fitting moment for the Nigerian-Canadian and native of Orangeville, Ontario, who will face the Toronto Raptors at Scotiabank Arena for the first time Friday.

Omoruyi’s second 10-day contract expired Thursday and the Pistons decided to reward his solid play with a chance to finish the season out in Detroit.

“It’s special,” Omoruyi told The Detroit News. “We’re a young team with lovely vibes and everyone is for one another. They really accepted me when I came here and we ball out every night, so I’m just happy to be here with them on the court.”

Omoruyi, a 6-foot-7 forward, has provided effort and energy for the Pistons since his first 10-day contract on March 3. He’s averaged 8.8 points and 3.6 rebounds on 46% shooting in 10 games with the Pistons. He also appeared in 23 games with Oklahoma City, averaging 4.9 points and 2.3 rebounds during his time with the Thunder.

His presence has given Detroit another able body with so many of the team’s rotation players unavailable due to injuries. Omoruyi will receive plenty of time to show more of his skillsets with Isaiah Stewart sidelined for the majority of the rest of the season due to a left shoulder impingement and Jalen Duren’s availability in question because of cervical whiplash.

“We’re going to continue to evaluate him, also in our summer program,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “We’d like to see how he fits, see what he can do. We like what he’s done so far. Everybody on our roster has room for growth. That’s what we’re looking for.

“It’s incumbent on him to continue to work, continue to learn, continue to get better: working on his shooting and understand what we’re doing defensively, and that’s good advice for all of our young guys.”

Omoruyi said he wants to improve his corner 3-point shooting this summer, noting that he picks one aspect of his game to target each offseason. He’s 6-of-26 (23%) from beyond the arc since joining the Pistons, but he’s shown that it’s a shot he’s comfortable taking. John Beilein, Pistons senior adviser of player development, has been an advocate for Omoruyi’s development.

“He’s been on me a lot about it and I just can’t wait to get back into the gym,” Omoruyi said.

The Pistons have nine games remaining, including Friday’s game against the Raptors, which features one of Omoruyi’s childhood friends in Dalano Banton.

“That’s my guy,” Omoruyi said. Close friends growing up. He’s had my back. I’ve had his back and it’s been a long journey for both of us. We’ve had our different routes and now we’re playing against each other, so it’s great.”

Omoruyi is expecting “over 100” friends and family members to show up to Scotiabank Arena to support him. He’s most excited to see his parents and sister in the stands on Friday.

“This is the first time a Nigerian-Canadian has made it as far as I have. It being such a big Nigerian community over here and my dad and my mom being very noticed by a lot of people, it’s a big deal.”

“I just have to continue doing what I’m doing, (the signing) being in my home country makes it even better,” Omoruyi said.

Pistons at Raptors

Tipoff: 7:30 Friday, Scotiabank Arena, Toronto

TV/radio: BSD/97.1 FM

Outlook: The Pistons (15-57) will try to snap a four-game losing streak against the Raptors (35-38) in Toronto on Friday. Detroit has lost the previous three meetings to the Raptors, the franchise where Casey earned Coach of the Year honors in 2018. Marvin Bagley III, who scored a season-high 31 points against the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday, has averaged 18.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in three games against Toronto this season.

mcurtis@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @MikeACurtis2

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