Summer School: Austin

Daye impressed by rookies, eager for Las Vegas play to open

Austin Daye is impressed with the rookies after seeing them in the first few Summer League practices.
Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images
Editor’s note: continues its series tracking the summers of last year’s three rookies – Austin Daye, DaJuan Summers and Jonas Jerebko – by catching up with Daye between the morning and afternoon practices on Wednesday in Las Vegas as the Pistons’ Summer League team gets ready for Friday’s opener.

Whew! We just finished our second practice in Las Vegas with our Summer League schedule about to start on Friday. We had an intense practice this morning. It’s been really good so far. The coaches have been doing a good job of guiding us through all our plays. We’re just trying to get a feel for each other, but I think we’ve done a good job of sharing the ball. I think this team will do good things in Summer League.

I know everybody wants to know about our two rookies, Greg Monroe and Terrico White. I’ll start with Greg. He really has good hands from what I’ve seen and he finishes really well around the basket. His passing is just how they said it was. They said he could really pass and I saw that after one of the first plays yesterday in our first practice. He made a pass to a cutter inside that was a pretty tight hole, but he got it through there.

He definitely has a lot of potential – you can see that – and I think he’ll fulfill all the expectations. He’s not a selfish player at all. He definitely wants to see the team succeed. That’s a good thing and that’s something we need. Hopefully, it can carry on into the season.

You can see that he’s a smart player, too. If you play at Georgetown, you’re coached by a good coach and you’re in a good system where you really need to learn a lot. He’s done a good job of learning here. He pays attention out there. He definitely does a good job of picking things up and strikes me as a real smart player.

With Terrico, he’s athletic – very athletic. He’s a ballhawk. Every time the ball is up in the air, he gets after it. And he’s very good in transition. He’s going to be a good up-and-down player. I don’t know what position he played in college, the two or the one, but I can see the potential in him to play the one. Whatever we need from him, from what I’ve seen in the first two days he’ll be able to handle it.

Since I checked in with you in June, I’ve been here in Las Vegas working out under Joe Abunassar. I’ve been playing with All-Stars. Danny Granger – I’ve been playing with him about every other day. Rudy Gay, my good friend, who just had to go home to sign that big contract – congratulations to him – he’s been working out with me, too.

We’ve been getting up a lot of shots and I think it’s shown so far. The first couple of days, the coaches have been impressed with what I’ve done. I’m trying to make sure I keep progressing throughout the summer. And this is only the beginning of summer for me. I still have two more months to make vast improvement and that’s what I’m looking to do. I’m not looking to stop with Summer League.

I’m working out six days a week. Usually I go three times a day, full days, for six days. I’ll go in the morning and get up shots with Rudy and Danny. Then we work out together and then we’ll play. After that, I lift. It’s the regimen I’ve been following, I’m keeping up with it and it’s definitely showing up on the floor. I’m at 207 pounds now and I’m just trying to keep it on. It’s probably going to be tough with these two-a-days we’re putting in out here now, so I’m just going to have to go home and get a good meal. But I’m just looking forward to the next practice, tonight, and the next one after that, tomorrow.

One thing that’s helped is that Rodney Stuckey and I got a chef about 20 or 30 games into last season and I think we’re going to do the same thing again next season. The chef lives just a cul de sac away and he was always at my house, anyway, hanging out. It really changed my diet. I was happy with the results. Before, I was eating food, going out a lot and spending money. Obviously, you have to spend money to get a chef, but it’s so much easier to be at home. You get a lot more rest that way.

It’s obvious that I haven’t been the only one working hard this summer. DaJuan and Jonas have, too. DaJuan has obviously been working out in the post and in his mid-range. I’ve seen him knock down a lot of shots in the mid-range these last two days. Jonas, he’s just a runner. He can run all day. They’ve both been working out and doing the right things to keep their bodies in shape. I’m happy they’re doing the same things I’m doing, I’m happy they’re getting after it. If we keep this mind-set for the next couple of months, I think good things will happen during the season.

As for Summer League, my hope is to win all of our games and impress that guy right there – coach Kuester. As long as I do that, I’m happy. As long as the staff and everyone is happy with my improvement, that’s what I’m looking to get out of this.

Winning is important because if we win, our individual development is going to show. I also noticed that when I stepped off the floor during our scrimmage this morning, it got a little scatterbrained. Now I need to be more of a vocal leader – me, DaJuan and Jonas – because we’re some of the oldest guys. When we’re out there on the floor, we’ve got to have good, solid character about ourselves and bring ourselves to where we can win games. If we can win games, our individual efforts and skills will show.

I’m going to be playing a lot at shooting guard here in Las Vegas. The biggest challenge is playing defense. I can do it. I can use my length and it showed out there today. The other thing is, they have to guard me on the low block. We’re running slice plays and I’m getting it on the block. Our opponents are probably, hopefully, going to throw another big or two out there to match up with us. We’ve got such a big team. If I’m at the two, DaJuan is at the three and Jonas is at the four, with Greg at center – that’s like 6-10s across the board with a 6-5 point guard. That just shows our versatility and that’s a big reason why they drafted us.

Now we’ve just got to put it together fast as a team and play well in Summer League. Check out our games and I’ll check back with you throughout the summer.