When Doug McDermott opted out of the 2013 NBA draft most assumed there would be little mention of Creighton products leading up to June 27, but former Bluejay center Gregory Echenique is working hard to ensure that is not the case.
The former Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year started working out for NBA teams before he even graduated with his international business degree.
First to get a look at the powerful, pink-shoed, defensive stopper was the Boston Celtics. The dominant defender did something right in Boston. Positive reviews emerged and helped him land a few more trials.
"For a little while I only had Boston, you know. After that one, some doors started to open for me. I've been lucky enough that, as of now, I'm up to 11 workouts. I have done eight so far… I mean seven. I keep losing track," said Echenique as he tried to name all the cities he has visited while waiting for yet another flight, this one out of Houston.
Since auditioning for the Celtics, he's hardly stopped. Workouts in Minnesota, Memphis, Chicago, Washington, Cleveland and Portland occupied much of late May and early June.
Between workouts, Echenique is living in Las Vegas, albeit out of a hotel room, while training at the nearby Impact Basketball Academy. The academy provides a place to work on strength and conditioning, join pickup games with other professionals, and improve individual skills with world-class instruction.
Echenique feels like he is in "game shape" thanks to all the work he's put in, in Vegas. His endurance will continue to be tested as he scheduled four more workouts this week, his busiest yet. By time the weekend rolls around, the big man will have worked out for the Houston Rockets, Brooklyn Nets, Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns. The mix of high-intensity workouts followed by long stretches of immobility during cross-country flights leaves Echenique's body fatigued at times.
"I think sometimes it gets a little tough. There's something about flying," said the 6-foot-9, 260-pound member of the Venezuelan National Team. "You're just sitting. You're sitting there, not doing anything and it gets to you."
With the draft only a week away, most teams will be wrapping up their workouts in the coming days. When his workouts are wrapped up, he will return to "Sin City" and continue to train leading up to next Thursday's big night. As it stands today, odds appear slim that Echenique will be selected, but drafts are tough to forecast, especially towards the end. Having his name called at the Barclays Center would obviously mean a lot to Echenique.
"It would mean a lot to hear your name on draft day. That's something that I think is special, and nobody will take away from you," said Echenique. "But with that being said, that doesn't mean if it doesn't happen it's the end of the world."
Going undrafted would not be a doomsday scenario, especially considering Echenique is almost assured to find a spot on an NBA summer-league team, which will begin in the middle of July. Maalik Wayns, Scott Machado, Kevin Jones, and Kent Bazemore are among the players that used strong summer-league showings and eventually played in the NBA in 2012-13 despite not being drafted the previous summer. Echenique hasn't though much about his immediate future if there isn't an NBA contract waiting for him after the summer, although he mentioned he would prefer to play overseas to the NBA's "D" league.
There is no cookie-cutter route to the NBA anymore, granted the draft remains the easiest way to make it. As guys like Gary Neal, Chris Copeland, and Creighton's own Anthony Tolliver have shown, today's dream doesn't end even if you don't make your NBA debut in your first year out of college.
Echenique is preparing to start his route toward the NBA, even though he does not yet know which path he will try to take, thanks to the impressions he left on the teams he worked out for.
Echenique Goggles NBA
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