Nets Open Group Workouts (1 of 2)
By Ben Couch
June 9, 2010
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.—After seeing six prospects on Tuesday, the Nets brought in six more Wednesday … before looking at another six in a second session. That might seem excessive, but there were 22 other teams thankful for the plethora of players paraded in front of them, for Wednesday marked the opening of a three-day, 36-player group workout hosted by the Nets at the PNY Center in East Rutherford, N.J. It follows one in Minnesota two weeks ago; the group sessions allow teams to save expenses by avoiding unnecessary individual workouts.
“I think what you’re looking for here is a piece of the puzzle, it’s not obviously the entirety of it,” explained Gregg Polinsky, the Nets director of player personnel. “I think you can get in trouble weighing too much on individual workouts but you also know what you’re trying to find in that workout. As you look selectively, it can be a really big help.
“I prefer watching 5-on-5,” Polinsky continued. “But – again – I think there is some value to this for Jordan Cohn, who does our NBA stuff, to be able to eyeball guys. And Rod, who is a basketball junkie, can actually see guys’ presence physically and how they conduct themselves. It’s a big help.”
Polinsky mentioned that he was impressed with guards Jon Scheyer (Duke) and Sherron Collins (Kansas), who battled through setbacks to perform well in the first session. Scheyer came down with mononucleosis and lost 10-12 pounds since Duke won the NCAA Championship, while Collins strained his left groin during a recent workout. Darington Hobson (New Mexico) also earned praise for taking advantage of situations where athleticism could be neutralized (READ: “halfcourt sets”) while Dexter Pittman (Texas) showed he could be a strong post player if deployed effectively.
Also onhand was St. Mary’s center Omar Samhan, who averaged 21.3 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.9 blocks during a senior season that ended with a Cinderella run through the NCAA tournament.
“Omar had a great year,” Polinsky said. “And I think if there’s anyone who can be an example of what hard work, getting in the gym, working on different moves and so forth. His biggest challenge will obviously be athletically. He’ll take that to the NBA level, and it’ll be a tough thing in the end for him to do. But I think everyone would have said the same thing for him coming out of high school for his success in college.”
Here’s a look at five storylines from Wednesday’s workout:
Hobson Stabilizing His Situation
After attending five schools in five years – four high schools and a junior college – guard Darington Hobson found a home at New Mexico … where he only became the first player to lead the Lobos in points (15.9 PPG), rebounds (9.3 RPG) and assists (4.6 APG) during a single season. That performance, which earned him Mountain West Player and Newcomer of the Year honors, along with Third Team All-America recognition, earned him enough NBA consideration that he declared for the draft after a single season.
The 6-foot-7 Hobson feels he’s capable of playing the 1, 2 or 3 at the next level, and that his basketball IQ will carry him through workouts as he attempts to prove he can knock down shots he hasn’t been able to hit consistently. Proud though Hobson is of reaching this point, he remains humbled by his juco experience at the College of Eastern Utah, which had him taking 24-hour bus rides, eating McDonald’s double cheeseburgers and sharing hotel rooms with three other players.
“In interviews, they just want to know why – why did I move around?” Hobson said. “And I explain to them that, growing up, I was a kid. I was listening to a lot of people telling me to go to different schools, that I can get exposure doing that. Once they talk to me and see that I’m a good kid, that I wasn’t just doing it to do it, (that) I was just a young kid listening to people, they figure out I didn’t mean anything by it. After I tell them the story and everything I’ve been through, they’re actually surprised that I’ve made it this far.”
Hobson spent last summer working out alongside Nets swingman Terrence Williams in Las Vegas, and became fast friends with the Nets’ amiable bundle of energy. Hobson called Williams “the most down-to-earth, goofiest, funniest guy in the world,” and said that the pair have kept in frequent touch throughout the draft process, with Williams recommending the Nets after a strong finish to his rookie season.
“I know they’ve got new ownership, and they’re getting a new coach, so I’m not really sure what kind of system they run,” Hobson said. “But (Terrence) told me it’s a good organization, good program, that they’re looking to win. They like big, versatile forwards, because he was kind of a point forward. He just told me, ‘As long as you come in, work hard, you’re versatile and you can defend, you’ll find a place on the floor.’ So if this is the place, then I think I can fit in well.”
Two Years from the Title
Sherron Collins knows memories can be short in the sports world, and with Kansas’ 2008 NCAA Championship now buffered by North Carolina (2009) and Duke (2010) victories, people might forget he was a crucial piece of that title-winning squad, earning recognition as the Big 12’s Sixth Man of the Year. But Collins knows the ones watching him during draft workouts are aware, and he wants to reinforce every positive image he can – even as he struggles with a left groin strain that cut short a recent workout for the Pacers.
“I went the whole (Indiana) workout except for the last 10 minutes,” Collins clarified. “There’s a lot of teams here and a lot of people here and I just wanted to show them my toughness, that I can play through injuries if I need to, that I can bop my head and really get after it.”
Collins has been guided through the draft process by former Jayhawk teammates who’ve since moved on to the NBA, including Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush and Darnell Jackson. And also Nets’ point guard Devin Harris, whom Collins could see himself slotting behind were the Nets to select him on June 24.
“I think I’d fit in well,” Collins said. “Not too many rookies come in right along and start, unless you’re LeBron James or somebody. You’ve got to play a backup role, you’ve got to make the best of the situation. I think I can be a great backup to Devin, I think I can run a team and I think I can get out there and guard.”