Deonte Burton Draft Diary Volume 1: The Combine, The Transition & Preparation

Senior Nevada guard Deonte Burton and Dime have come together to give readers an inside look at the life of an NBA prospect. Deonte brings basketball fans behind the scenes as he prepares for the Big Night: the grind of the travel, the sweat from preparing in the gym and weight room, and the emotions casual fans can only guess at on TV, are all documentd by Deonte for us here. Think the process is easy? Think again. As Burton informs us in his first installment of the DDD (Deonte Draft Diary): “Every step of the way is hard. You just have to push through it.”

The 2014 NBA Draft is less than than a month away on June 27. While the world patiently awaits another draft night, there is no waiting around for the prospects this year. For Deonte Burton, it’ll be the summit of a dream that started when he was just five years old.

Bleacher Report calls him, the “point version of James Harden,” but the senior guard has a long way to go before living up to that sort of hype.

Burton attacks the rim with a ferocious tenacity and throws down some insane dunks despite standing just 6-1.

Burton’s fearless when charging the rack and can absorb contact before finishing, but transitioning from the college game to the professional ranks isn’t as easy as drawing the foul and hitting the bucket. Deonte might finish through contact while putting up 20.1 PPG on 47 percent shooting during his senior year at Nevada, but the jump from college to the pro game can be fraught with pitfalls.

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On returning to Nevada for a fourth year:

The decision to return [to Nevada] turned out to be great. It was a blessing. I accomplished things that no one in my family has ever done or did. Getting a degree, graduating college; I was the first to do it in my immediate family. That’s more important than anything, even this basketball stuff. Having a degree, a college degree, that speaks wonders for me and where I come from. I don’t regret it at all.

I don’t think staying four years gives you an advantage, though. If you leave early, or stay four years, at the end of the day it’s basketball. I’ll say maybe you’ll have a little more experience than guys that come out earlier, but there are pros and cons to both sides. What’s important is once you get drafted and once you get in the league you have to work your tail off. You have to do what the coach wants you to do, you have to have a positive attitude, and you just have to keep working and never give up and you’ll be successful.

I was contemplating on leaving my junior year of college. There was a point and time where I wasn’t doing so well in college and some of the other agents that were trying to get me to sign with them, didn’t really show interest after I had a few bad games. But, BDA was still there even after I had bad games. They would tell me that it’s okay, I’m human. So, it made my decision pretty easy.

On the transition from college to the NBA and his workout routine:

It’s real difficult. To balance both things, it’s important to get your degree, well, important for me that is. As a kid growing up, I never thought I could get a college degree and there it was right in my hand. Then I had to get ready for the NBA as well, so that demands a lot of time and effort. It’s definitely hard balancing out the two and finding the mental ground.

I usually start at about 9 a.m. and I’ll get up and go to P3, which is our strength and conditioning facility. After that, I’ll grab something to eat for about 45 minutes. Then, it’s onto the basketball workouts. Those workouts demand a lot from your body: they’re about two to three hours long.

It all has to do with balance. P3’s trainers do a fantastic job at pinpointing every little detail on the court and off the court, in the weight room and in the gym. Everything that you need to do better or get better at. Things that you are good at already and that you don’t need to focus on that much. Just keep getting better. I’ve been at P3 working on my balance, my shot. It’s going really well. I’ve been working on my decision making, ball handling, all of that.

After the workouts are finished it’s six or seven o’clock, so I’ll go shower and get into the books. I’m taking online classes so by that time I’m sleepy and tired. You have to be mentally tough and just work through it.

I’ve moved since graduating. I still have a lot of things at my old apartment in Reno. I still have to get those things. I’m also traveling back and forth to my workout place which is in Santa Barbara. Then going from there to LA, to Chicago, all over the country. It’s really tough.

There aren’t any easy steps to the transition. Every step of the way is hard. You just have to push through it. There’s 82 games in an NBA season, so I’m getting a little taste of it right now. I think I’ll be well prepared. It’s 82 games and you can’t really compare it, but I’ll still have a lot of traveling ahead of me. I just have to get mentally tough and take it all in right now.

Click for Deonte’s trip to Chicago for the Draft Combine…

On his participation in the NBA’s Draft combine in Chicago:

The Draft Combine definitely didn’t go as I expected it to go. But, nothing ever does in life. I liked it, it was pretty well planned out and organized. Just being there [was exciting]. When you’re watching the combine over the years on TV, you never think that you will be there one day. Just being there was scary, like ‘oh man I’m here.’ All the coaches and GM’s are watching, all eyes are on you. You just have to go out there and give it your all.

The combine is a different mindset than a college game. Not taking a possession off. I think if you just go out there and show maximum effort and give it your all, then that’s all anyone can ask for. Just perform to the best of your abilities, go hard, 100 percent all the way, no quitting or stopping. That means a lot that everyone can see your effort and that’s all anyone asks for.

I don’t think a combine makes you who you are on the court. When it comes down to it, it’s about winning and being able to control a team as a point guard. What can you provide for a team? In some way it helps you see that you can jump high, you’re explosive, things like that. But, a game setting is totally different to me than testing or drills or things like that. I think it shows potential in players, but I don’t think it should make or break players until you see them in action.

I interviewed with Washington, Brooklyn, Indiana, and Portland at the combine, and each team had their own way of asking questions and getting to know me. Some were more serious talks, some were more laid back, just go with the flow type. Then, some were just assessment type testing, to see what type of player or decision maker that you are. Each interview had its own style.

On a future in the NBA…

I call it “nervecited” because you get nervous and you’re excited at the same time. It’s like you’re excited because you’re in the process and you’re going to live out your dreams. But then, you’re nervous because you don’t know where that dream is landing. You don’t know what state, what city, it’s a combination of both.

I’m an LA guy [Deonte attended HS in Compton, California], so any LA team — Clippers, Lakers — would be cool. Something close to home. But, I’m not going to complain once I’m drafted. I’ll be happy to go anywhere.

I’m for-sure underrated. Just being from the school that I came from in Reno, Nevada. Most people think we’re UNLV, which has a lot to do with it. I just try to stay focused and worry about things I can control. I can’t really control where they have me going. Those aren’t official, no one knows where they’re going. When I workout for teams, I can just give them my all. All I need is for one team to really love me. My dreams could come true early, I could go from 15-20, or I could go later. Either way, whatever team drafts me, I’m going to work hard for them.

I already have a chip on my shoulder. I’m in this category of “sleepers,” so I already have that chip going into the league when I’m drafted. It’s the same as high school, I was underrated and I had to show people then. I’m going to continue to work hard and work harder and show people now.

On Draft night:

I haven’t envisioned Draft night yet. It falls into that category of being nervous and excited at the same time, which I mentioned earlier. So, I try to not really think about that. Just put in the work right now and when draft night comes I’ll be in a cave somewhere, just hiding.

I’m not even gonna be close to New York [for the Draft]. I’m not going, I can’t do it, but the process is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Just to be in the conversation of getting drafted is more than enough for me. I’ve been dreaming about this since I’ve been five or six years old and I remember watching the NBA and wishing I could get there. To have it happen and mentioned and brought up is remarkable to me. My mom is happy, my family is happy, so that makes me happy. It keeps me going.

Where will Deonte get drafted?

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