This final season was a dream. It didn't end the way we planned with the seeding, then the second round loss to Duke, but it was the most fun I've ever had playing basketball.
We started with a preseason trip to Australia during the summer and we all bonded there and it carried over to the season and we were more of a family than a team. It finally hit me that it was over during our team banquet when they honored the seniors and I realized there wouldn't be any classmates giving me high fives, there wouldn't be any professors wishing me luck, or anymore games with the guys I went to war with for years but I still have memories that ill hold on to forever.
The NBA was never on my mind during our games, practices, or team functions. I devoted every ounce of energy to the team and trying to make for a special season. I did, however, think about the next level when I went to the gym at midnight every night to work on my individual skills. That was the only time I allowed myself to be a little selfish.-I entered the draft last year to get a sense of what I needed to work on to become a more complete player. I knew what to work on to be effective going into this past season after getting advice from different people during that time. I also gained a lot of confidence after working out with different guys that would later go on to be drafted because I felt like I wasn't that far behind them skill-wise.
Having such a great record was fun. It brought a lot of media attention, which was something the school had never experienced before. Breaking the school records that we did and cracking the top 10 was exciting and I'm just glad I got a chance to be a part of it all.
We always felt that we could compete with anyone in college basketball. So on selection Sunday when I saw that we could potentially play Duke in the second round I was excited. The history that's tied to that program...Coach K, Cameron Crazies, and all the NBA players that have gone through that program....I was ready for the challenge. We fought hard throughout the game but just couldn't get over the hump and ultimately lost.
The interesting thing is I wasn't sad for one second that our season and my college career was over, I was thankful for the time I got to spend with my teammates and thankful for the great ride we had that season.
Portsmouth was my first introduction into the professional basketball world--being thrown on a team with random players and expected to win and display your individual skills at the same time. I thought I stayed true to the type of player I am, I played intense defense, grabbed some boards, and hit the open shot. A lot of the things I do may not show up on a stat sheet but they contribute to a team winning--whether it be set a good screen or motivating guys to play harder, and I hope the scouts saw that. I did receive the Sportmanship Award which was cool.
Now I'm back in Chicago training with Tim Grover. I wake up at 6:45 every morning to eat breakfast and then get to the gym by 8. I do drill work for about an hour then lift for an hour. Then I go home for lunch and go right back to the gym to shoot or play pick up. Basketball is my job now so if the average person is working 9 to 5 then I should be doing the same on my game.
Im graduating with a BS in Exercise Science. No its not a gym teacher degree, its like physical therapy and stuff like that.
I am very confident in my game right now. I'm down to 225 so I'm jumping out the gym again, my jump shot is falling consistently and I'm stronger than I've ever been so hopefully I get a chance to go to Orlando and then from there who knows.....