For NBA, would-be draftees must be able to play beyond college mold

Sunday, June 24, 2012 at 10:10pm

While Kentucky one-year sensation Anthony Davis need not fret about his draft status — the New Orleans Hornets hold the No. 1 pick — for many others the month or two prior to the NBA Draft figures to be a crucial time, especially for those on the bubble.

College players are molded into a system or a role that best fits the team. When auditioning for a spot in the NBA, however, that concept gets thrown out the window. 

“NBA scouting is a lot more complex,” former Belmont point guard Drew Hanlen said. “You have to make sure they don’t have any [weaknesses] that can shut them down and get them off the court and on the bench.”

Hanlen, 22, is the founder of Pure Sweat Basketball, a personal training and basketball skill development company. Since graduating in May, he has trained seven potential first-round picks, including Vanderbilt’s John Jenkins and Festus Ezeli and probable lottery pick Bradley Beal of Florida.

“The biggest difference [in training styles] is that in college, coaches try to prepare them for a role and their system,” Hanlen said. “Whereas in the NBA pre-draft training, we try to prepare to be an ultimate better player, understand the game more, understand angles and how to take advantage of defenders more.”

Ezeli, a 6-foot-11, 255-pound center, has participated in workouts in Chicago, Cleveland, Boston, Miami, Denver and Dallas. In the past two months, he’s added a depth to his offensive game that wasn’t seen in college.

“My offense might be a little different now,” Ezeli said. “I have to do more with pick and rolls or expanding my range on my post moves. In college, it’s easier for me to just seal every time and get a bucket that way. In the pros, it’s a little different with that I have to be able to score from out of the post.”

When the draft ends and players land in training camp, Hanlen says combine drills are eliminated and the focus turns back to filling a role for the team.

“It’s really more about going to a spot that is right for you, not just the highest spot possible,” Hanlen said. “It’s better to be drafted with a good fit, a good team and a good organization, even if it does end up dropping you a few slots or costing you a couple hundred thousand dollars, which seems like a lot and is a lot.

“But in the long run a better fit for your first three-year contract will actually give you a better chance at making a lot more money at your second contract, which is where players make their living.”