David Stockton Follows His Own Path in Third World Cup Qualifying Stint
When you follow in the career footsteps of a world-famous parent, the pressure to live up to the lofty expectations created by their career can either make or break a person.
Not so for David Stockton.
As one of six children of Basketball Hall of Famer and two-time Olympic gold medalist John Stockton, David Stockton said he never felt an ounce of expectation to be the next superstar point guard. Perhaps because of that, the 30-year-old has been happy to grind out a pro career and is still pursuing his hoop dreams both in the U.S. and internationally.
The latest entry on his playing resume is part of the USA Basketball Men’s World Cup Qualifying Team. This month marks the second of three first-round qualifying windows for the 2023 FIBA World Cup. The U.S. (1-1) is at training camp in Washington, D.C., which precedes games against Puerto Rico (1-1) on Feb. 24 and Mexico (2-0) on Feb. 27.
For Stockton, this marks his third go-round with USA Basketball. He was part of two World Cup qualifying windows in 2018, averaging 10.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists while helping the U.S. go 3-1. Stockton is one of three players in this month’s camp with previous USA Basketball experience at this level.
“It’s obviously an honor,” said Stockton, who is currently with the Memphis Hustle of the NBA G League. “I told myself if I ever got that call for the first one, it’s 100% yes. I don’t care what’s going on. It’s so much fun to represent the USA and I understand that it’s actually the senior men’s basketball team. Yeah. Usually you’ve got to be among the top 10 players in the world to do that.”
Maybe the expectations to be great never came because he was undersized, even in college at Gonzaga University, the same school where his dad made himself into a first-round draft pick.
“I’m sure there were some (expectations), I don’t think there was too many,” Stockton said. “I mean, I didn’t get above 135 pounds maybe until after my freshman year of college. I played well in high school and I always just tried to create my own path a little bit and see where I could end up with it. I didn’t really let it bother me.”
Even now, Stockton is listed at 5’11” and 165 pounds, just shy of his dad’s 6’1” and 170 pounds. Much like his three brothers and two sisters, he has relied on the advice and counsel of his mom, Nada, and dad for things that arise on and off the court.
“I talk to my mom a lot and, granted, it’s less on the basketball side and I think that also my dad is less on the basketball side,” Stockton said. “It’s nice to have other people, too.”
Of course there is basketball talk, especially when the hard times hit. That is when his dad’s wisdom really comes into play.
“I mean, he’s the one who’s been there every step of the way, the most important influence I’ve had, whether I’m not playing well or it is what’s happening with the fam,” Stockton said. “There’s just so much that we talk about and work through. He has been just such an incredible influence.”
Even with the famous bloodlines, Stockton has had to prove himself on the court. He didn’t become a full-time starter at Gonzaga until his senior season, then went undrafted in the NBA. Stockton has played with the Reno Bighorns, the South Bay Lakers and Memphis in the G League since the 2014-15 season, averaging 16.9 points, 6.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds for his career. Internationally, he has been with teams in Croatia, New Zealand, Germany and Puerto Rico.
Stockton has had two stints in the NBA, seeing action in three games with the Sacramento Kings in February 2015, then playing for his dad’s Utah Jazz for three regular-season and two postseason games in the 2017-18 season.
He knows the clock is ticking on his playing career, yet he still clings to the hope of another NBA call-up.
“It’s always there, that’s part of the reason why you’re in the G League,” Stockton said. “I've been playing really good ball in the last year and was hoping to get a chance. I understand those windows, they start closing as you get older, but you never really give up on the dream and you're always wanting to play and if you're playing well then keep going.”