19-year-old Archie Goodwin Making Transition to Man's Game and Life

by Matt Petersen

The leap from preps to pros no longer exists in the NBA, but Suns rookie Archie Goodwin’s transition is close enough.

The 29th overall pick in this year’s draft just turned 19 years old last week. He spent one year at Kentucky, a short enough stay for the former Wildcat to admit that the only friends from his college days were his teammates.

So how is a young man with minimal post-high school experience dealing with the leap to the biggest, adult stage in basketball? Turns out he’s kept himself too busy to say.

“I still don’t think it’s hit me for real, yet,” Goodwin said. “I’ve been so focused on trying to get better and focused on competing and just trying to do everything I can to make sure I’m successful, so I haven’t really thought about it as much as like ‘has it hit me? Wow.’ I haven’t had that feeling yet because I haven’t allowed myself actually relax.”

Goodwin’s summer slate backs up his statement. Three weeks after being drafted, Goodwin got his first taste of professional competition at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. He averaged over 13 points per game while starting at shooting guard for a Suns team that went 6-1.

With the talent already in tow, the coaching and training staffs are now giving Goodwin the tools to grow physically and mentally.

"It’s an elite league. There’s guys coming in every year. Thinking about that, it makes you want to stay in the gym as much as possible and stay out of trouble. You’ve got to realize that you can be replaced."

Archie Goodwin

It’s the close-up attention to his development, Goodwin says, that has been the biggest change since hearing his name called in New York.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a lot harder, I would say it’s more instruction,” Goodwin said. “They’re really precise on things, trying to get my body right, get my movements corrected. That’s what really makes it hard, I feel, just knowing that I have to be precise on every little move I do because it’s helping perfect my body."

Attention and care for rookies is nothing new in the NBA. The league puts on a yearly orientation for its newcomers, containing everything from easygoing photo shoots to serious talks about the dangers and potential pitfalls that come with big-league status.

In a league where first (and continually good) impressions are everything, Goodwin’s was enough to earn MVP honors of the Rookie Transition Program in New York.

For Goodwin, respect for the league and its rules goes hand in hand with respect for his competition.

“It’s an elite league. There’s guys coming in every year,” Goodwin said. “Thinking about that, it makes you want to stay in the gym as much as possible and stay out of trouble. You’ve got to realize that you can be replaced. If you continue to have a good attitude, I think you’ll be successful.”

“Staying in the gym” is a common mantra for athletes on a self-improvement mission. But Goodwin looks at it as something else that comes with his adult lifestyle: punching in for work.

“Now I’m a professional,” Goodwin said. “I gotta take it as a job, now.”

Eventually, however, even the hardest-working employee needs to punch out and have a personal life. Complicating – or oversimplifying – things was the sudden lack of a seemingly permanent part of his day-to-day life: school.

“I have a lot of free time,” Goodwin admitted. “In high school and college you’ve got classes, tutors and things like that. Now I’m in the free world. Outside of the gym I’ve got time to myself to just be at home, relax and rest my body and get ready for the rest of the day.”

Goodwin relies on his relationship with his uncle as he navigates his way through early adulthood. Goodwin’s uncle is in his mid-30s, providing an elder influence that’s close enough in age to relate to the young rookie.

“He’s like my best friend,” Goodwin said of him. “Just being around him has helped me mature a lot faster than the average guy that’s 19 or 18 because I learned so many things from him at a young age that helped me prepare for this level.”

Now, nearly 2,000 miles away from friends and family and with visits from his uncle an infrequent affair, Goodwin knew he needed to provide his own entertainment away from the game.

For that, Goodwin turned back the clock to his childhood.

“What I did was I went to go find a Playstation 2 and I got all the Crash Bandicoot games,” Goodwin laughed. “All those games from when I was a little kid, ‘cause I could never beat them as a little kid. Now that I’m older I feel like I can beat it, so I went back and got them all.”

Goodwin’s concession to his youth is a refreshingly safe one as he simultaneously embraces adult obligations. When Goodwin was asked if he was looking forward to how NBA 2K14 would rank his rookie self, his response was decidedly businesss-like.

“I’m not really too much interested in it, for one, ‘cause they never show much love to rookies,” Goodwin said.

“First one I’m not really going to pay too much attention to. As I continue to progress in my career – hopefully I’ll have a longstanding career – hopefully I’ll continue to do good and we’ll see how they rank me from there.”

An adult-like response about a video game? Give the kid a “99” priorities rating.

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