Dime Q&A: Orlando Johnson and Marcus Denmon Discuss The Pre-Draft Process

By: 07.05.12
Orlando Johnson

Orlando Johnson (photo. UCSB Athletics)

Dime: What’s the nicest hotel you stayed in?
OJ: Nicest hotel was probably the Minnesota hotel, I forget what the hotel was called, but it was right across the street from the Target Center. They had a TV in the bathroom which was pretty cool.
MD: I stayed in a few nice hotels actually, pretty much all of them were nice. I really liked the hotel in Minnesota though just because they had some really unique things in the hotel rooms. They had some kind of light behind my bed which was cool, they had flat screens in the bathroom. The showers were really nice, they had like six shower heads and the water came out at three different levels with four different heads on each level. It was crazy.

Dime: What was your favorite memory from the whole process?
OJ: Getting the chance to travel and compete against all these guys who want the same thing you want. That’s what will stick with me for awhile, especially with how many people are trying out for these positions and wanting to get drafted, but many of them might not get drafted. I think the whole competition level and getting the chance to play in front of the coaches and GMs of NBA teams is really great.
MD: My favorite memory is the fact that me and Kimmy (Kim English, Denmon’s teammate at Missouri for four years) have been enjoying the process together. We’ve both been going to some of the same teams and hearing about teams from each other. We would let each other know what to expect at workouts or letting each other know how we did in each workout. Also, who we thought we had success against, and just getting to enjoy that process with him. That was the most enjoyable thing besides actually playing and getting to see some guys like come into a gym in Minnesota or Santa Barbara and it’s Larry Bird there to watch you work out. That was really cool.

Dime: What is the funniest story you have from the process?
OJ: We were in Chicago at the Combine and doing the bench press with the 185 pound bar, and it was the guy who was letting go once you were ready and him making sure not to get in the way and deciding when to let go. I thought that was pretty funny, how he gave me instructions about it.
MD: Actually, I would just say (laughing), I had a lot of funny stories but I don’t know how appropriate they would be. I know that a guy in one of my workouts told me that while he was being interviewed by a team (laughing hard), one of the coaches private parts fell out of his shorts, that was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever heard. He said he was in the middle of the interview and they just fell out. When I heard that I lost it, I laughed so hard. I can’t tell you what player or what team, but that happened.

Dime: What was your least favorite part of the whole process?
OJ: Probably just waiting in airport lines and trying to make your flight. They got delayed sometimes and that was probably just the worst part about it, but every team they treat you really well, and it is basically like getting recruited again.
MD: Just sitting in these airports. Of course, being able to have the opportunity to work out for these teams is always good, but there are times where you would work out for a team and you would work out at 9:30 or 10:30, and you are done with the workout and it’s time to leave but your flight isn’t until six, so they take you to the airport at one and you are just sitting there for three hours. I had a good pre-draft, but that was hard sometimes.

Dime: If you could change anything about the way you went about the last two months, is there anything you would change?
OJ: I wouldn’t change anything. I feel like I did everything I needed to do in order to get to the level I’m trying to get to. I think everything happens for a reason and I’m really happy with how things went.
MD: I wouldn’t change anything at all. I think that as far as this process has gone, I’ve done really well. I think I’ve proven that I’m a prospect to be reckoned with. In every workout, I think that I did really well. I’ve had 11 or 12 workouts and there is only one where I felt I didn’t play well and it wasn’t because of effort but I just didn’t play well.

Dime: What’s the best advice or best lesson you got from someone during this process?
OJ: Just to always stay in attack mode on both ends. To always have aggression in your game and never take a play off and always stay focused. That was definitely something I took to heart and will keep with me as long as I keep playing.
MD: I got a lot of good feedback and things and things from teams. I tried soaking in all the different things that people were telling me, the guys who go through this every year like scouts or NBA GMs. One thing that stuck out, and this is something that I always understood, but this kind of hammers it home is that the 60 best players won’t get drafted on draft day. Every year teams make mistakes whether it’s drafting a guy too high or a guy doesn’t get drafted high enough. You just have to stay persistent and continue to work, no matter how things turn out in a workout or whatever. A person could come in and have a good workout, and that means something, but it is the least of your worries because teams see your body of work for four years. Don’t let one workout bother you, because these teams do their homework and they know one workout is not enough to know all about a player. They know if you come in and shoot 20 for 20, they know you can shoot but you aren’t that good of a shooter, or if you come in and shoot 2 for 20 they know you are just having an off day.

Dime: If you had to give advice to someone who goes through this process next year, what would you say to them?
OJ: I’d tell them that it is a grind. If you are not willing to put the time in and put the work in then this is the wrong profession for you. Also to enjoy it because this is the one chance in your lifetime when you get a chance to travel and play in front of all these NBA teams, so make the most of it and just enjoy it.
MD: I would say it’s a business. One thing that I’ve done is basically treating this like an interview for a job. I’d tell them to stay humble, and don’t get caught up in the process or any of the hype. There are people right here who are working to be in the same spot you are in so you have to put your best foot forward. I know every workout I come to, whether I’m interviewing or not, I have my shirt and my tie on. I want these teams to know I’m taking this seriously because it’s a job, it’s a business.

How do you think Marcus Denmon and Orlando Johnson will do in the NBA?

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