The 2016 NBA Draft is set for Thursday, June 23rd. As the stars of the college game get ready to find out where they will begin their NBA journey, CBS Local Sports’ “My Life As” series will give them an opportunity to talk about how they got to this point and what they expect from the future in their own words.
My goal is to get drafted in the first round and I think I have a pretty good shot. From talking to my agent, and the people he’s been talking to, my draft range currently is late 1st round to early 2nd round. One of my big goals, when it’s all said and done on June 23rd, is to hear my name called in the 1st round. I’m on a mission to prove everybody wrong and have a long, successful career in the NBA.
I picked basketball up later than most kids. I started playing in seventh grade. The main reason I started playing is just because at the time I was playing football and in Texas it’s really hot with all that equipment on. I was always uncomfortable and it just wasn’t for me.
We had a high school assistant come over to the middle school about two or three times a week to just work out some kids for the upcoming year, and at the same time he tried to recruit the kids to come play for the high school after they were done with middle school. I noticed that nobody would go over there except for one of my good friends who happened to be his son, so I figured why not give this a try? And it stuck.
It was during my sophomore year of high school that I really started to believe I could play basketball at the college level. I had offers from Weber State and New Mexico before some of the bigger schools (Clemson, Florida State, Auburn) picked up on me later in the process.
The main reason I chose to go to Weber State over those other schools was just the background they had. They had a good coaching staff in place and when I took my official visit out there I just felt at home. Everybody out there was a high character type of person and it’s a big basketball school, it just felt like the right place for me.
Those bigger schools told me straight up that I would red-shirt my freshman year if I went there and I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to be able to make an impact right away.
I accomplished so much individually at Weber State (all-time leading rebounder, Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year, Big Sky MVP) and we had a good team every year, so it’s hard to pinpoint one favorite moment from my time there. But, getting to the NCAA Tournament in two out of the four years I was there (2014, 2016) meant a lot. Especially to our school and community because coming out of our conference you have to win the conference tournament to get that automatic bid. To be able to do that twice meant a lot.
I think the part of my game that will translate right away to the NBA game from college is my motor and my consistency. I play at a high level and am a great rebounder (averaged 10.1 rebounds per game in my four years in school) and on the defensive side I can guard multiple positions.
After our loss to Xavier in the NCAA Tournament, I was waiting to see if I would be invited to the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. My agent told me that I would likely be invited but it was still tough waiting to hear from the NBA. When I finally got the call I was so happy.
The combine was huge for me. I went in with a chip on my shoulder and I just knew I had to perform really well to increase my draft stock and I think I did that.
Coming out of the combine, more people knew who I was and I made a bigger name for myself. There was some doubt as to whether I could keep up with better competition since I went to a smaller school in Weber State, but I performed really well and I think I showed I can play with anybody.
The workout process since the combine has been interesting. I’m working out pretty much every other day for a different team. After each workout I shower, eat a quick lunch, interview with the team and after that I head to the airport onto the next city to get ready for the next workout. I think it’s good, though, because teams are only allowed to bring in six players so the workouts are really small and personalized. That way they get to see how you play and match-up against the opponent they bring in. Most teams will have you play 3-on-3 or 2-on-2 and some even have you play 1-on-1, which is a great opportunity. That’s what I’ve been waiting for. To have the opportunity in those situations to show them what I can do and why I’m better than the next person.
It would be really cool to go to the Mavericks just because I grew up in the Fort-Worth area just outside of Dallas. But, I’m more than happy to go anywhere and will be thankful to whoever takes me.