Long before he signed on to play football for the Michigan Wolverines, and eventually become a second-round draft pick for the Carolina Panthers, Devin Funchess was a basketball player.
At 6-foot-4, an NBA career is not promised. For an athlete at that height who can jump high enough to almost literally kiss the rim, catching footballs is probably the more surefire way to end up as a Power-5 level starter, and eventually a professional athlete.
Funchess put down the basketball after the 10th grade and began his very successful football career. Getting a scholarship offer from Michigan after only two high school seasons, and ending up in the NFL shows evidence of a correct decision, but hardwood has been calling his name in recent years.
He revealed on Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson’s podcast that he has been in the gym for the last couple of years knocking the dust off of his game. His agent is in talks to get the free-agent pass catcher on a playoff roster, but Funchess is thinking of going back to the first game which showed off his athletic prowess.
“I know I’d have to go overseas and get some film,” Funchess said. “But my dream growing up was to play in the NBA, so that’s my main goal and that’s what I’m gonna make happen.”
If wants to possibly expedite the process, he needs to try and get into the LNB Pro A League in France, where Victor Wembanyama plays. The most highly touted NBA draft prospect since LeBron James is under contract to play for Metropolitans 92 in that league until May.
Funchess said on The Rich Eisen Show in 2019 that when basketball was his main priority he was a “mini” and also a “knock-off LeBron James.” If Funchess can jump at 28 years old the way that he did in 2015 then he certainly has that part of James’ game. He has played tight end in the NFL, so he has real strength as well.
The court vision part, we’ll see. However, there is an open run session on YouTube of him playing 5-on-5 against Amar’e Stoudemire (who, by the way, was recently charged with battery in a disturbing crime that he has denied.)
Funchess is mic’d up in the video, so if you don’t want your coworkers or children hearing him scream F-Bombs with all of the power his vocal cords can muster, I suggest turning the volume down. His game though, is pretty clean. He buried a pull-up 3-pointer right in Stoudemire’s face, another one from Stephen Curry land, blocked some shots, and did throw a nice dime.
He is clearly talented, and at one point in his life played a lot of basketball. If Funchess was 6-foot-8, there is no doubt that he would have played major college basketball, and a good chance that he would have been given a shot at an NBA career.
However, at 28 years old, with basketball being played at an extremely high level in many corners of the globe, a successful career in Europe or Asia would be a remarkable achievement. To make the NBA with the height and build of a prime Charles Barkley — also knowing that the league has not sought out players like that before or since — the incline Funchess’ crime is steep.
Best of luck to him though.