Cedric Bozeman is currently working on his game for the Albuquerque T-Birds in the NBA D-League after being waived by the Atlanta Hawks. In his six games, the 6' 6" guard has already posted one triple double and had a 20-assist game. He is averaging 15ppg, 11apg and 6rpg.
Bozeman seems accustomed to the adversity and uncertainty of being a professional athlete. He played in the McDonalds All-American game as a high school senior (2001) and was UCLAs starting point guard as a freshman.
He led the Pac-10 in assists as a junior and then tore his ACL during preseason of his senior year. He was given a red shirt year, only to find himself coming back in 2005-06 to play small forward while Jordan Farmar
and Arron Afflalo
started at guard.
He went undrafted but made the Hawks' opening day roster. He played in 23 games, mostly as a defensive stopper, and was waived by the Hawks on January 2nd.
He joined the Albuquerque T-Birds on January 19 and is putting up big numbers. He is doing a nice job distributing the ball and running the offense while providing solid defense. In the two games I saw, he was able to drive to the basket with ease, but had trouble finishing. He still needs a lot of work on his outside shot, but he says that his current numbers arent accurate because he took some time away from basketball when the Hawks released him. We'll wait and see.Jim Hlavac: After going undrafted last year, what steps did you take to get to the NBA?Cedric Bozeman
: Coming out of college, I had a lot of high expectations. I only worked out for two teams and didn't get to go to draft camp. It was the Lakers and Clippers and that was it.Jim Hlavac: You were supposed to play on the Lakers summer league team. How did you wind up playing for Atlanta?Cedric Bozeman
: The Hawks called last minute. I looked at the situation and saw how it was - and I took my opportunity there.Jim Hlavac: At what point did they invite you to camp?Cedric Bozeman
: Right after summer league. The summer league was done. I did pretty well in summer league and then got my chance to go.Jim Hlavac: What was it like being in the NBA after the uncertainty of the summer?Cedric Bozeman
: The NBA experience was great. I learned a lot. I saw what practice was like and saw what training camp was like. To be able to play at that level, for even 30 games and travel with the team, I learned a lot. Just to get a taste of it keeps me hungry.Jim Hlavac: Who helped you the most in Atlanta?Cedric Bozeman
: One of my best friends, Josh Childress
, is on that Atlanta Hawks team. Weve played together since we were young so I learned the ropes from him. You know, staying with him every day and seeing that hard work pays off.Jim Hlavac: Did the Hawks give you any reason for letting you go?Cedric Bozeman
: Well, basically they said it wasnt fair for me to just sit on the bench and not play. And I appreciate the honesty. They got to go in a different direction and I think it's a good move. It's making me better playing here because I'm playing and I'm working on things I need to improve on.Jim Hlavac: Was it weird having (former UCLA teammate) Dijon Thompson take your place?Cedric Bozeman
: (Laughs) When I heard he was taking my spot I was happy. I mean, it couldnt happen for a better guy.Jim Hlavac: Ive seen you play quite a bit over the past couple of years. You look much quicker this year. Has the knee finally healed?Cedric Bozeman
: Well, with an ACL injury, it takes a full year and some change to really get your explosiveness back. It's coming. I know before I hurt my knee I was really explosive - I was getting there. Now its just starting to come back and Im getting more confident with it.Jim Hlavac: How have you adjusted so quickly to playing with this team (Albuquerque)? Cedric Bozeman
: It's a part of the business, you have to be ready to play when called upon and I'm trying to take this in stride. I think college really prepared me for the NBA. I was always playing different positions and that allowed me to explore a lot of things.Jim Hlavac: Whats it like being in the D-League after experiencing the NBA?Cedric Bozeman
: It kind of reminds me of high school a little bit. Its bringing back the glory days of Mater Dei. (Bozeman played several high school games at the Anaheim Convention Center, home of the Anaheim Arsenal.) Jim Hlavac: Youre back in your neighborhood. Did you have any friends here tonight?Cedric Bozeman
: I had a few fans, a couple of UCLA people and a couple of Mater Dei people, so it was fun.Jim Hlavac: Good luck.