The who’s who of future rookies graced the ballroom of the Westin Hotel in New York City yesterday. Even though none of them have played a single minute in the league, their impact could already be felt.
As soon as the first round of prospects began to answer reporter’s question this class’ potential, charisma and maturity were on full display.
Kentucky freshman guard Devin Booker put it perfectly "Maturity is more important than age," Booker said.
Maturity was conveyed in the prospect’s thoughts about being successful in the NBA. Many of the top incoming rookies had insightful thoughts on how they can have an impact on whichever franchise selects them tonight.
Duke center, and national champion, Jahlil Okafor said, "I’m a winner. I’m going to get better. I’m a hard worker and won’t get into trouble off the floor."
Justise Winslow, another Duke player and national champion, thinks he can bring the winning attitude from college to the pros, he said, "I’m a winner- I’ve won at every level. I find different ways to get the job done."
Emmaunel Mudiay, who played last season in the Chinese Basketball Association for the Guandong Tigers, believed that nothing else matters but coming out victorious, "I’m about winning. If you win, everything else will take care of itself," Mudiay said.
Other top prospects discussed what the game of basketball meant to them.
European prospects have developed a stigma over time that they are soft or don’t have as much of a drive as their American counterparts. Kristaps Porzings isn’t buying that at all, "My love of the game. Nobody will stop me from working and doing my thing," said the big man from Latvia.
Kentucky junior — who has simply been red flagged in some eyes because he stayed three years at the "One-and-Done Factory" — Willie Cauley-Stein said of the effort he brings night in and night out, "I play with a chip on my shoulder. Real passionate. I play hard all the time, with a lot of energy."
Finally, projected number one overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns had this to say, "If you work hard to be as versatile as possible, the coach has no choice but to put you in the game."
Notes and Observations:
-Brownie points to D’Angelo Russell and Devin Booker on their style choices. Russell went with a toned down ‘Miami Vice’ open collar look while Booker combined a forest green blazer, a chambray button up and a white handkerchief lined with gold to complete the best look of the day
-Speaking of Russell, he along with Jahlil Okafor, Karl-Anthony Towns and Emmanuel Mudiay drew the biggest crowds amongst prospects.
-Going back towards the style aspect of yesterday, Jahlil Okafor wanted to fully show off the weight he’s dropped during the pre draft process and his all black shirt/tie/pants combination definitely made him look like a different person than he was during his stay in Durham.
-Towns and Johnson were two players that entered the media scrum later than the scheduled start time, however no reason was given for why they both arrived late.
-Every prospect that met with the Knicks said they had a film session with New York Knocks President of Basketball Operations, Phil Jackson, in which they discussed the philosophies of the triangle offense and how they would fit into it.
-Kelly Oubre is going to be a journalist’s best friend. Here’s a quick rundown of some quotes he gave: "[All the teams I worked out for] loved me," "I feel like I can be the best [player] one day," "[During the workouts I felt like] I got my swagger back." That last quote invoked the following question, "What does it feel like to play with your swagger back?" KELLY OUBRE IS MEDIA GOLD!
–Frank Kaminsky though showed that his four years at Wisconsin taught him exactly how to dicipher whether a reporters question had any type of implied meaning or message behind it. At one point he responded by calmly telling a reporter that he wasn’t going to get him to say that he wouldn’t like playing in any NBA city more than another.
-Russell’s personality was on full display during his session. His phone was placed on the table in front of him and looked like he was on a FaceTime call for his Q&A. He also had the one-liner of the day; when asked what’s the craziest question he’s been asked during this process as he was leaving the ballroom he turned and dead panned back, "That one."