Andre Drummond didn’t have many memorable performances in his one season at Connecticut, but it’s not hard to understand why he remains one of the more intriguing and tantalizing prospects in the upcoming NBA draft.
He’s the high risk and possibly high reward player who could make talent evaluators earn raises if Drummond eventually blossoms into the physically dominant big man that his incredible skills and athleticism suggest. He also has the potential to disappoint on a grand scale, if his passive play is more of the norm at the next level.
Drummond knows the perceptions that surround him – and also that he can’t change anything that happened, or didn’t happen, in college.
“The season is over. I’m on to the next chapter,” Drummond said. “I feel that I had on okay year. Things I could’ve done better: Score more. Play less passive. Grab more rebounds and block a few more shots. I felt I was ready to make the move [to the NBA] and that’s what I did.”
The Wizards will have a chance to get a better sense of what the 6-foot-11 Drummond is about on Monday, when he works out at Verizon Center. They spent the previous four years trying to develop JaVale McGee into a serviceable center before eventually dealing him to Denver to get Nene.
Drummond is an even more challenging assignment, since he is expected to go in the top six on June 28 and the Wizards might not have much time to wait for him to come around. His upside, though, is alluring.
He has incredible physical tools – a 7-6¼ wingspan, a standing reach of more than nine feet and decent speed for a 280-pound player with just 7.5 percent body fat. He can bring the ball between-the-legs and dunk and have rebound putback jams from ridiculous angles and distances.
But after entering college drawing comparisons to Dwight Howard, he averaged only 10 points and 7.6 rebounds and shot 29 percent from the foul line, raising doubts about his motor and ambition.
“I play serious all the time,” Drummond explained. “I’m not one to beat on my chest or roar or make noises to show my feelings. Basketball is a game like poker. You don’t show how you feel at certain times. So I always smile, so you never know how I feel.”
He added that his uneven play as a freshman was the result of some unusual circumstances at Connecticut, where the program had a feeble encore to winning the national championship in 2011. The 18-year-old Drummond nearly attended prep school before deciding to attend college. While at school, Drummond suffered a concussion and a broken nose early in the season and had to wear of protective mask for nearly a month that he said made him play “a little timid.” He also had to watch freshman point guard Ryan Boatright get suspended by the NCAA, Jim Calhoun miss more than a month while on medical leave and his teammates fail to develop much chemistry.
“As a team, we didn’t meet some of the goals we set for ourselves and myself, I had goals that I didn’t meet as well. I feel that we could’ve did a lot more things better,” Drummond said. “We kind of had a tough season. It was kind of hard to transition with each other.
“I think since the transition was so shaky for me to come to college, because I didn’t know what I was going to do, because I would’ve gone back to high school,” he said. “And then I decided to make the jump and I didn’t transition as well as I thought I would. It kind of like, I was a little rattled throughout the season. It caught up to me and I started getting better. Now I know that I’m on a bigger stage, that shouldn’t affect me.”
Drummond has been preparing for the draft working out with famed trainer Idan Ravin, also known as “The Hoops Whisperer.” He has been focusing on his back-to-basket game and improving his endurance.
“He’s probably by far, the best trainer that’s out there,” Drummond said. “He knows everything. He knows all your weaknesses and will tell you exactly what to do to make yourself better. And I’ve been working with him for a little over two months now and I feel I became a better player and a person.”
Drummond doesn’t turn 19 until August, but he believes that he will be able to contribute right away. His youth, he said, “will be to my advantage. Because they’re old men and I’m kind of quick on my feet.”
He then cracked a smile.
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