NEW YORK – The most talented amateur basketball players in the world will have their dreams come true Thursday night when they’re selected in the 2014 NBA Draft. If many of them have it their way, their name will be called by the Boston Celtics.
As a requirement for accepting an invite to sit in the Green Room at Thursday’s Draft, 20 of the top prospects met with the media Wednesday afternoon to discuss their expectations for tomorrow night. At least a quarter of those players singled out the Celtics in one way or another during their media availability.
One of those players is Noah Vonleh, who grew up in nearby Haverhill, Mass. He said that he’s been receiving non-stop text messages from friends and family about the prospect of landing with the C’s.
“Everybody’s texting me,” he said with a smile, clearly enamored by the possibility of playing for his hometown team. “They’re like, ‘Bro, I hope you come to Boston,’ and this and that. ‘It would be crazy! You’re [playing] for the hometown! I’ll go to all the games!’”
Vonleh is one of several prospects who either grew up in or played high school ball in the New England area. Those players obviously would love to come back to their old stomping grounds and put together a great career in green and white. But you don’t need to be a New England product to want to play in Boston. That much is very clear.
Every prospect who worked out for the Celtics saw first-hand that Boston’s tradition is second to none. Seventeen banners hang above the practice court. Those things are hard to miss, and they’re quite attractive to players who want to win.
“They expect championships,” said Julius Randle. “They have so many championships in their past and that’s what they expect.”
With that in mind, Randle said, “It would be a joy to play for the Celtics.”
Randle also singled out Brad Stevens as a reason why he’d love to wind up in Boston. Stevens has drawn rave reviews from nearly every prospect who has worked out for the team. Randle and Doug McDermott lauded him yet again on Wednesday. McDermott recounted the atmosphere of his workout with the Celtics and attributed the good vibes to Stevens.
“It was great to have Brad Stevens run the whole workout. It kind of felt like a college practice, “ said McDermott, who was the consensus National Player of the Year this past season. “It was definitely probably the most unique [workout], just because that guy has a crazy IQ for the game and he drew up sets for us to run to see how quickly we could adjust to a play call at the end of the game. I definitely enjoyed that.”
It seems that the same can be said for every other prospect who made their way through the Celtics practice facility over the past several weeks. The Celtics, from Stevens to Danny Ainge to the franchise’s tradition, have been praised by the Draft’s top prospects. It’s clear to anyone who talks to these guys that they would all love to put a fresh Celtics cap on tomorrow night.