Prospects Find Extra Comfort in Boston

WALTHAM, Mass. – What’s it like to be an NBA Draft prospect who’s being shipped around the country to perform in front of handfuls of teams?

Let’s just say it isn’t exactly comfortable.

“You feel like a horse at a show or something,” says Austin Ainge, who is Boston’s director of player personnel. “There’s a million people staring at you.”

And judging you. And critiquing you. And breaking down your every move.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

Kkhyle Marshall

Khyle Marshall played three seasons under Brad Stevens at Butler.
Getty Images

It might not be fun, but this is the hard knock life of a prospect who’s trying to make his dream come true. If Player X needs to work out on Tuesday in Los Angeles and then on Wednesday in Boston, so be it. Book the flights. He’s in.

So many factors make it almost impossible for these kids to feel comfortable. Every now and then, however, a dose of familiarity will be thrown into the mix.

Take, for instance, Khyle Marshall (Butler), Jabari Brown (Missouri) and Devin Oliver (Dayton), who all took part in Boston’s workout Thursday morning. All three players had close friends in the building to guide them through the day.

Marshall’s case was the most extreme. He just graduated from Butler University, where Brad Stevens used to be the head coach. The two saw each other nearly every day for three years before Stevens left to join the Celtics. The two were reunited on Thursday, giving Marshall a unique comfort throughout the workout.

“I felt like I was back at Butler, but there was just a lot of green around me,” Marshall said. “It just felt like old times.

Playing for Brad for three years, I kind of had an idea of some of the drills that he was going to do,” Williams explained. “A lot of them were very familiar. In comparison (to other workouts), I thought I had good familiarity with the drills that we had, but they were very competitive.”

Brown and Oliver didn’t have their former coach running Thursday’s drills but they did get to catch up with their old buddies over the past day or so. Brown and Phil Pressey played together last season at Missouri, and Oliver played two seasons with Chris Johnson at Dayton. The two pairs have kept in touch ever since and were able to link up here in Boston.

With such connections in tow, Brown and Oliver could ping the best sources on the block about what to expect at Thursday’s workout. That’s an absolute game-changer.

Think about it like this: Would you be more comfortable walking into a science test blind, or with the knowledge of which specific topics were to be covered? Exactly. The latter.

Brown and Oliver were prepped for Thursday’s test in a way that they hadn’t been to that point. In Brown’s case, he had completed 12 other workouts prior Thursday’s. This was the first in which he had former teammate in town to talk him through it. He knew what to expect, and Oliver likely did as well. That is comfort.

There have been 40-50 prospects who have made their way through Boston’s doors over the past few weeks. Every one of them has gone through the same process. They’re the horses at the traveling show, and everyone else in the gym makes up the panel of judges.

Nothing can make that situation completely comfortable – nothing – but familiarity can certainly help to ease the pain.


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