NEW YORK -- Add Syracuse coach and USA Basketball assistant coach Jim Boeheim to the list of talent evaluators who were surprised by the ability of Brooklyn Nets forward Mason Plumlee.
“I didn’t watch the Nets a lot last season because I tend to follow teams with Syracuse players,” Boeheim told BrooklynNets.com with a wry smile.
“But he’s really good and he’s going to keep getting better. It was obvious from the first day of practice that he was one of the more talented big men we had in camp.”
Plumlee did not play Wednesday night in a 105-62 rout of the Dominican Republic. Plumlee said Coach Mike Krzyzewski told him he probably wouldn’t play as he tried to get minutes for players who hadn’t seen action in Saturday’s win over Brazil.
Plumlee said he expects to play Friday night against Puerto Rico and remains confident he will be on the roster when the team heads to Spain for the FIBA World Cup.
“I just feel my whole body of work - obviously the public has seen the scrimmages, the intersquad scrimmage went well, I played well in Chicago. But just as much as that, I feel like I’ve practiced very well since [Las] Vegas, so I’m confident where I stand,” Plumlee said. “If they need me, I’m ready to go.”
Plumlee has been down this road before. Taken by the Nets with the 22nd pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, many thought he would spend a year in the D-League.
Plumlee didn’t get the memo.
He played 70 games (starting 22), averaged 7.4 points on 65.9-percent shooting and grabbed 4.4 rebounds. Plumlee was an NBA All-Rookie First Team Selection.
He was invited to join the USA Select Team, which was comprised of players not expected to make the roster. They were the basketball versions of tackling dummies.
Again, Plumlee didn’t get the message.
By the time the squad left Las Vegas, Plumlee had been called up to the National Team and he’s not looking back. He does not believe he needs to do anything special Friday night to cement a spot on the roster.
“If I am making a statement, it’s playing my game, doing what I do at a high level, not getting outside myself,” Plumlee said. “Just giving the team what they expect from me and what I’ve done up until this point.
“It’s a short period of time. We’re only with this team for a month and half so every game’s a statement game. Every practice is big. You can’t really have bad days in the U.S. program.”