How did a 6-foot-8, 188-pounder lead the Pac-10 in blocked shots last season?
In a word, said Tyler Honeycutt, volleyball.
“Volleyball defenintely helped,” Honeycutt said after working out for the Wizards Tuesday morning along with five other draft hopefuls. “It’s equivalent to going up and blocking a shot and not touching the [volleyball] net [to] blocking a player’s [basketball] shot and not touching him.”
Honeycutt, who is projected to be picked anywhere from the end of the lottery to the end of the first round, might be the Wizards’ man when they pick at No. 18 in the first round. He averaged 2.1 blocks per game last season at UCLA, and said volleyball was his best cross-training device while in high school, during which was an all-league player and led Sylmar (Calif.) to the Los Angeles City section championship as a senior. Honeycutt is effective at shot blocking by timing his leaps and coming at his opponents from behind to swat the shot.
“Getting your footwork down helped me with my athleticism,” said Honeycutt, who on Tuesday began a nine-day stretch in which he will audition for seven teams from the District to Portland. “I was a one-foot jumper before [volleyball], but I turned into a two-foot jumper,” explaining how now he can leap with both feet on the ground.
Honeycutt said when it comes to the offseason, teenage basketball players often look the wrong way when it comes to cross-training.
“Any young kid during the offseason doing track in high school, check out volleyball,” he said.
But don’t look for Honeycutt on any beach volleyball courts. His game is strictly for the hardwood.
“I never play beach,” he said, with a chuckle. “I jumped about three inches in the sand. I can’t do it.”