It's all Chandler Hutchison ever heard, that he can't. So all he ever showed them not only was that he could, but really better than they could.
Like in high school when he couldn't make the varsity until his junior year, but by senior year he was a 20-point scorer and cracked the nation's top 100 recruits. It came late, so college meant Boise State, wherever that was. You know, the basketball powerhouse known for its NBA and ABA alum in the likes of Chris Childs, Coby Karl, John Coker, Clyde Dickey and James Webb, the latter who got in 10 games for Brooklyn last season. And then they told Hutchison he couldn't do it there, either, failing to average even seven points his first two years as a spot starter. So then as a senior, the 6-7 Hutchison went on to become one of the most versatile players in college basketball, averaging 20 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 39 percent on threes.
And then last week, the No. 22 selection for the Bulls in the NBA draft, a widely skilled and mature 22-year-old who is anxious to make his case as the epitome of the modern NBA wing player, capable of taking the ball full court with long strides and opening up an offense. Better not tell him he can't do that, either.
"The stuff in high school, I didn't think too much of it," Hutchison said Monday at his introductory media conference with fellow No. 1 pick Wendell Carter Jr. "Once you turn that page, just like now from college to the NBA, you're given that clean slate and everyone is on a level playing field. I pride myself on working hard and continuing to improve. It was just to be a really good college player at first. I was given the opportunity to do that and excel at Boise State.
"I think having it being so unlikely and having people I played with when I was younger and even in college ranked ahead of me, me being passed multiple times, I think that is the one thing that got me here," Hutchison said. "I think there's something in my DNA. When something like that comes up, I just carry that chip on my shoulder and it motivates me to want to make it that much more. It doesn't matter ranking wise. I always wanted to be the hardest worker no matter what gym I was in. I just carried myself as if I was the best player and I think that paid off every year at every level. I continued to believe that and believe in myself and having my family believe that as well and the coaches I played for; they also had that belief and all of that is a pretty good formula."
And if it continues, which history suggests with Hutchison it will, the Bulls may have found themselves a rare two-way wing, small forward who will make plays for others while also defending and building on a three-point shot that went from 29 percent as a freshman to 39 percent as a senior. Sports Illustrated labeled him a "hidden gem" during the collegiate season.
"Especially as you watch the playoffs this year, the teams that have multiple handlers and facilitators are the hardest to guard," noted Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg. "Especially when you look at Chandler's case, his ability to push the ball down the floor and you get your point guard running one lane and your shooting guard in another, it certainly helps you, the versatility at the defensive end to guard multiple positions. He's got great length, he's got great feet, he's got good anticipation.
"The thing that impressed me most about his game was his ability to get the ball off the defensive glass and push it down the floor and facilitate offense," Hoiberg continued with this enthusiasm growing. "I think he'll fit well with the way we want to play with pace and with speed, getting our guys out running the wings. He had more coast to coast plays than, I think, of anybody in this draft. He averaged almost eight rebounds and almost four assists per game. On top of that, he scored 20 points. He's a guy that you watched his game over his four years at Boise how it evolved and how he continued to improve. You look at his three-point shot from his freshman year to his senior year. It's two very versatile players that I'm really excited about adding to our team."
Bulls Vice-President of Basketball Operations John Paxson was quick to caution patience with a young core of players 24 or younger with limited experience. And, at least for now, Robin Lopez projects as the starting center for next season with perhaps Justin Holiday, Denzel Valentine or David Nwaba at small forward. But it's not much of a stretch to envision the 6-10, 255-pound Carter Jr. at center and Hutchison running that wing perhaps, dare we say, a bit like Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen with the long arms, improving shot, spidery defense and court vision to set up teammates.
Hutchison wasn't the kind of player to be on the radar of many. Idaho, of course, is known more for potatoes than the pick and roll. Rarely has a player come out of one of the major colleges in Idaho and been more than a spud in the NBA, old timer Gus Johnson the rare exception. Boise State never had a first round draft pick until last Thursday.
But it's been a mistake to underestimate Chandler Hutchison.
That's because you can measure height, weight and reach, but not determination, commitment, tenacity and resolve.
Those really are the traits that make the draft such an inexact science.
No matter the size and shape, the jumps and bumps, a team never can truly determine how a player will develop until he is in the cauldron of competition. That's where the fire has to burn. Hutchison doesn't stay on simmer for very long.
Hutchison was poised and firm in his responses to reporters in the Advocate Center. He and Carter Jr. will participate in a Bulls mini-camp next week before leaving for Summer League in Las Vegas with the Bulls opener July 7. Hutchison, who is a Southern California native, will wear No. 15. He wore a light suit with a white shirt and paisley tie Monday, fittingly coordinated like his game.
"I don't think I do just one thing where you just plug me into a spot and know I'm going to be great at one thing," Hutchison said. "I think I have a lot of different weapons and I'm useful in a lot of different situations. I see that as being really valuable in the NBA, especially now being able to play in different positions, handle the ball, rebound, defend as well with my size and also play make."
In some sense, both he and Carter Jr. were the guys who often were overlooked, but rarely outplayed.
"The guys we're being compared to or guys that we were (overlooked) for, we just kind of put our head down and work," said Hutchison. "I feel like that's valuable at every level. Obviously, we both understand being a rookie; there's going to be a lot of work that we're going to have to do. I'm willing to do whatever it takes to see the floor and continue to show what I can do."
His history suggests it perhaps could be a movement. You know, yes he can.