Guards Impress Nets on Tuesday
By Ben Couch
June 8, 2010
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.—As Quincy Pondexter deals with the uncertainty of a draft process that has already encompassed 13 workouts, he knows that he has 14 feet of encouragement backing him – Nets center Brook Lopez and his twin brother Robin (Phoenix) were high school teammates at San Joaquin Memorial in Fresno, Calif.
“They said I’m going to be fine,” explained Pondexter, who worked out for the Nets at the PNY Center on Tuesday. “They’ve seen me play a million times, they’re always encouraging and they said it’s going to be fine. ‘Don’t sweat it, just go out and enjoy the moment and let the rest of it take care of itself.’
“… And Brook said for the Nets to draft me, so that’s what I think he really wants on his wish list.”
Pondexter smiled as he delivered that punchline, but his all-around game is no joke, likely as it is to land him a three-year guarantee late in the first round. The 6-foot-6, 225-pound swingman made impressive strides during his senior season at Washington, increasing his scoring average by seven points, earning All-Pac-10 First Team honors with a final line of 19.3 PPG, 7.4 RPG and .528 shooting.
Still only 22, Pondexter’s length and athleticism have enabled him to become a strong defender, possibly able to guard NBA 2’s, 3’s and even 4’s in time. Pondexter knows defense leads his list of NBA-ready attributes, with his shooting range notably in question until he can answer with a string of steady workouts.
“If I get selected to the Nets, I can see myself really helping this team win games, setting the tone defensively and really adding a lot of flair to this program, this organization,” Pondexter said. “I’m going to dedicate myself to whatever team takes me. If it’s the Nets, I’m going to dedicate myself 130 percent to make sure we win a championship some day.”
After parading his skills for several teams, Pondexter said he’s surprised several of them, surpassing expectations with in-person auditions after an injury knocked him out of the Chicago combine. Pondexter added that team executives have told him his energy level and maturity bode well for his future success.
With the Lopez brothers serving as San Joaquin success stories, Pondexter’s hoping to emulate their example as he seeks an organization to provide an avenue to the NBA. Pondexter said he admires Brook for the fortitude he showed in playing – and starting – all 82 games while working hard to improve even as the Nets struggled last season, and attempted to carry a similar mindset into Tuesday’s workout.
“I just came out and tried to compete the best I can,” Pondexter said. “With all these workouts going on and all the traveling, it’s hard to play your best every day. But you’ve got to come out and compete – that’s the thing you can control, and that’s what I did today.”
Also working out Tuesday were guards Mikhail Torrance (Alabama) and Terrico White (Mississippi), who impressed Nets assistant coach Tom Barrise.
“Mikhail, we really liked him down in Portsmith (at the Portsmith Invitational Tournament) and he showed us some of the same skills we liked down there,” Barrise said. “He’s got great length for position: he’s a legitimate 6-4, so he can play both guard spots; he’s got nice handle and good quickness about him. And White is a very athletic 2-guard, though more of a 2 than a 1.”
Torrance’s performance at Portsmith drew raves, according to the Web site DraftExpress, which praised Torrance’s size (6-foot-5, huge for an NBA point guard), aggressive “slashing mentality” and “innate” passing ability while cautioning that he is turnover-prone and could stand to work on improving his shooting and defense.
Thus far, Torrance believes he’s showed teams he can knock down open shots and defend either guard position while wielding a surprisingly quick first step.
Despite the thus far impressive workouts – which Torrance says have him moving up draft boards – the 21-year-old senior’s transition to the point remains a progression. Torrance knows that, and sees an opportunity to build on the foundation he’s established were he drafted by the Nets.
“Devin Harris is a great point guard, so I could definitely learn a lot from him, being a point guard myself,” Torrance explained. “I am going to be a sponge, and soak everything up.”
White is also attempting to convince teams he can play either guard position, though – as Barrise mentioned – he currently projects as a shooting guard, due to a low assist rate (1.9 APG in 66 games). The 6-foot-5 guard, who has a 6-foot-9 wingspan that should allow him to easily slide to the 2, hopes to solidify a first-round selection through workouts.
“My first year I showed them I could be the point,” White said. “But my sophomore year they had me playing the two, so I wanted to come out and show them I can handle the ball.”
Torrance and White Video