Is this pre-draft process pretty much the same for you as the last time, or do you do anything different from things you learned last year?
"I think that I have been a little more prepared this year because I know what's coming. I've trained really hard and prepared myself mentally and physically so that I can go and compete at my best. I think that has helped me to not have the jitters and stuff I had last year going into some of this."
What did you find out last year that teams value in these workouts, so that maybe you prepare differently this year?
"Generally speaking, they really value athletic ability and potential. For me, athletic ability is not my upside. Potential is not my upside in their eyes because I'm a fifth-year [senior] and I've been playing for so long. If a guy has played five years and hasn't made the league yet, then they think he doesn't have a lot of upside. Those two things I can't really bring to the table. But being able to go up there to compete and shoot well, and when we do the tests do the best I can - that's the best that I can do."
Is there any advantage or disadvantage when you work out for some of these same clubs that you did last year?
"It could be seen as a disadvantage because you might have had a good workout for them last year, so you want to try and do even better. You have to do better because if you don't do any better, then you haven't gotten any better. I've only done three of the same ones so far, and probably two out of the three I was able to do better than I had last year, so that's good."
Where have you been so far?
"I've been to Sacramento, Los Angeles, Golden State, Houston, and I'm heading to Denver. I also worked out in Los Angeles for like six different clubs at one workout thing."
What is the perception, either from what clubs tell you or what your agent tells you, that you have coming out of this fifth year? Is there anything different that teams learned about you from this past season of basketball?
"What my agent told me is that my stock was really high at the beginning of this year, and then obviously my stock really dropped. I kind of fell off the radar this season. Going to Portsmouth and doing really well at Portsmouth brought me back onto the radar. My doing really well there enabled me to get a lot of workouts with teams and actually be considered. I was very fortunate and blessed that I was able to play there and then have the opportunity to do well. Now it is a situation for a lot of teams of whether they want to take a chance on seeing what I can do. A lot of people view the second round as 'Are you going to take a chance?' There is no science to it. Not every second-round pick makes it into the league. Sometimes free agents do. It's a real crap shoot. It really is."
You remarked that your stock dropped with this year. As you reflect back on this last year of basketball, how hurtful or how sour is that for that experience? You came back to help yourself and to win. You guys didn't go to the NCAA Tournament; you didn't help your stock.
"I think that ultimately for me, I realize how much it meant to people after the season. People would come up to me and say, 'Thank you so much for coming back.' 'We really appreciate watching you.' I could have left; I came back. Being able to get my master's and being able to play with some of the guys again was good. It was a situation where you have to kind of roll with it. It didn't go well. Like I said the year before, you learn a lot and you grow. It helps you to deal with the stuff that doesn't go your way all the time."
Is playing against adversity at least a good experience for the things you will have ahead of you in professional basketball?
"Definitely. You are going to have situations like that when you get to the next level. I think that it definitely benefited me going through a season where we did not achieve to the highest level that you think you can. And I think it will really help the guys next year. I think that they are going to learn from a lot of stuff that was going on last year and become a closer unit and use that to their advantage, to come out and have a good year."
People don't understand much about Portsmouth. Can you explain what it was like and why it was valuable?
"Usually Portsmouth could be a disadvantage, and especially for somebody like me maybe because a player like me does not do well in that atmosphere. You just put a bunch of guys on team and throw them out there to play. In the past, I have gone through different AAU junctures and stuff like that where I don't get playing time or there are agendas with the coaches. This was very good because there are a bunch of high school coaches from the area that coached me. There was only eight guys on the team. Everybody got the same amount of playing time - everybody got at least 20 minutes. That is huge because in the past at other junctures, they might tell you that you are going to get equal playing time, but you don't get it. You might play just eight minutes, so what's the point? You don't even get seen. But at this one, everyone got to play at least 20 minutes, and I was playing well, thankfully. I was playing maybe 30 minutes a game, which was really good."
And you were shooting the ball crazy...
"Yeah, I was blessed. I shot the ball really well. All the NBA teams were there, and another good thing is that all the overseas scouts - and a lot of coaches and GMs from overseas - were there as well. Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and some other guys - there were all there watching Portsmouth. It is not a situation where you can't benefit from it, but a lot of times it doesn't help you. So thankfully I was able to get help from it."
Do you feel like at this point, your shooting rhythm is really clicking for you?
"It's clicking good enough. There are certain situations where you want to shoot the ball better, but I have been able to during these workouts to shoot the ball well from different situations. Hopefully I can keep it going."
You hear about these shooting drills at workouts they put guys through - pointing to a bunch of positions on the floor and making you go through them and shoot four or five shots each. How has that environment been like and how successful have you been?
"I have been training very intensely, for like two months before, going through all these shooting drills with an individual coach. And I have been doing more than what you have to do at an actual workout. I think that was to my advantage because you have to shoot so many shots and be extremely exhausted when training on my own. Then when you go to the workout, you don't do nearly as much shooting as when working out on my own. I went through a lot of the same drills - maybe a little bit different - so I was very prepared. I didn't know exactly what would come, but when we started doing it, I had done it before so it was a matter of just executing it."
Can you put your finger on where you maybe shot the ball the best at a workout thus far?
"I would probably say Houston is where I may have shot the best."
Is that becoming your identity that these clubs know right now - that this guy can really shoot?
"Yeah, he can really shoot the ball. What they say about me is that I am a guy who can shoot the ball, a really extreme competitor who will do whatever it takes and has a good basketball IQ. The question marks are can he defend NBA point guards and can he make plays happen on his own. Those are the types of things where I just have to get better and keep working hard."
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