LAS VEGAS, July 20, 2008 -- Just like Gilbert Arenas before him, Portland combo guard Jerryd Bayless wore No. 0 during his days as a Wildcat at the University of Arizona.

Also, just like Arenas, Bayless' stock dropped on Draft night. While Agent Zero was projected as a mid-to-late first round pick and fell to No. 30, the 6-3, 200-pound Bayless was slated as a top-five pick and ended up not getting selected until Indiana scooped him off the board at No. 11 before trading him to Portland.

Even though No. 0 was available on the Trail Blazers' roster, Bayless opted to take a new digit, No. 4, when he started his career as a pro. I asked him about the change and he said there was "no reason." My guess is that he wanted to make a name for himself and avoid the Arenas comparisons that would surely surround him had he stuck with the big "o."

It worked.

Bayless was named the T-Mobile NBA Summer League Top Rookie after averaging 29.8 points and 4.8 rebounds in four games out in Las Vegas. Even though he was only competing against rookies for the award, had there been an overall MVP given out, he would have won that too.

I spoke to the 19-year old following the Blazers' last summer league game on Sunday.

Congratulations on being named the T-Mobile NBA Summer League Top Rookie. Looking back at this week, what was your mentality coming into Vegas and how satisfied can you be with winning this honor?

Jerryd: It was a good experience. I wanted to come in here and obviously win games and just get better as a player, as an individual and get our team better. I think we did that. We won three, lost two and now we got to move on and start getting ready for the regular season.

Take me back last to that Phoenix game. Itís something special that Iím sure youíll probably remember for the rest of your career Ė 17 points in the fourth quarter. You guys were down by 14, talk about how you kept pushing and stayed confident.

Jerryd: Itís just never quitting. You always got to have that mentality of never quitting. Thatís just something Iíve always been brought up with. Whatever the situation is, Iím never going to quit. Iím always going to keep on playing hard and thatís what I did last night.

Howís your hand today?

Jerryd: Itís OK. Itís a little sore, but itís alright.

[Editor's note: Bayless did not play on Sunday because of an injury -- his left hand was iced and bandaged.]

What happened to it?

Jerryd: Iím not even sure. Itís just pretty sore.

How did you hear that you were picked to be a part of the U.S. Select Team and how does it feel?

Jerryd: The coaches told me about it and itís a great honor. To be able to represent your country Ė kind of, in a way Ė weíre just obviously helping out the team, the main team, the actual team. Weíre just going out there trying to help them out, help them win the Gold and weíre going to do whatever they ask us to do to help them win some more games.

This week you got to go against NBA players, but next week youíll be going against superstars like Kobe, Carmelo and those guys. For you personally, in your career, how is that going to help you progress?

Jerryd: Itís a learning experience for me. Iím going to go into there trying to learn and soak up as many things as possible. Iím going to try to learn the tricks that they use, all the different things that they do to get people off balance so they can score and get other people involved. Iím going to try to soak up as much information as possible and try to get better from them.