Tuesday night was business as usual for most people across the country. That is, people who were not directly involved in the 2005 NBA Draft. For former Bearcat hoop standout Jason Maxiell while June 27 was not just any ordinary day, from his actions one would be hard pressed to tell.
"I mean, it was more than just a normal day, it was one of the biggest days of my life, but I just sat back and tried to enjoy it," said Maxiell, who claims to have been clueless as to where exactly he was going to be drafted.
"I really didn't have any type of idea. I knew I performed well at some of the [pre-draft] camps, and I heard a lot of different opinions, but I didn't know what to expect."
Maxiell, a native of Carrolton, Texas, became the ninth Bearcat selected in the NBA Draft in the last nine years and the fifth first round selection from UC since 1993. He averaged 15.3 points and 7.7 rebounds last season while leading Cincinnati to a 25-8 record, earning second team All-Conference USA honors.
Though he didn't know what to expect, the situation he ended up with is one that would have been difficult for him not to dream about. Drafted number twenty-six overall by the Detroit Pistons, the two-time defending Eastern Conference Champions and one-year removed NBA Champions, Maxiell will have the chance to learn on the fly and help make him a long-time member of the Association.
"It is a great situation for me to learn in, either in the game or during practice. I just need to go out and play hard every day and prove I am capable of playing in the league."
The kid who enjoyed his last four seasons dominating the paint in Conference USA play must now transform into a man to play basketball at the next level. Most likely Maxiell's best chance at long-term success is on the defensive end, where he earned the nickname Mad Max.
"They are a great defensive team. I know there are guys like Rasheed [Wallace] and [Antonio] McDyess that I will have to compete with, but I just have to go out and do what I can to help my club."
Standing 6-7 and weighing-in at 250-pounds, Maxiell has been compared to current Motor City big man Ben Wallace. Like Wallace, who is widely considered one of the preeminent defenders in the League, Maxiell is a strong rebounded and shot blocker. Maxiell led C-USA in blocked shots, averaging 2.8 per game, and ranked No. 18 nationally. His 91 blocked shots was the second-highest UC single season total. His 252 total was second to the career mark of 292 set by 2000 number one overall draft selection Kenyon Martin (selected by the New Jersey Nets) and 908 career rebounds, ranking ninth at UC.
With that being said, Maxiell's tenure in the Queen City has shown that he is a capable offensive force. Facing-up or back to the basket, put-back or transition score, these are all features of Maxiell's more than competent offensive repertoire. Maxiell's productive career as a Bearcat featured 1,566 points (11th all-time).
While Maxiell, who played in 129 consecutive games (starting 77 in a row),
the second-longest streak by a Bearcat, knows that success in the NBA will not
come easy, especially on such a talented team as the Pistons, he believes that
he can make an impact in the league right away -- but not necessarily in the way
most people consider success.
"I definitely think I can make an impact in the league right away," said Maxiell who sees hard work day-in and day-out as the ultimate success. "I just want to help my team win, and if I can do that I would consider my rookie year to be a success."
While the likelihood of Maxiell coming into the NBA and making a major contribution right away are slim, the current Detroit roster exemplifies what working hard every day and waiting for the right chance to prove yourself can do. Like Ben Wallace and Tayshaun Prince have done in recent years with the Pistons, and all the Bad Boys that came before them, Maxiell embodies what every NBA scout longs for in an athlete. However, Maxiell's dedication to teammates, his job, and becoming the best that he can be are all attributes that make Maxiell a certain success in life, no matter what the NBA has in store for him.