The NBA draft process is a once in a lifetime experience for those who go through it. While there are many broad similarities between the experiences of players during this process like hectic travel schedules and grueling pre-draft training, each player takes something different away from the process. I decided to talk to ten different players eligible for this year’s draft to ask them all the same set of questions to use as a means of comparing their experiences.
Up today are Maalik Wayns and Hollis Thompson. Wayns was Villanova’s starting point guard this year, and after playing behind and with guys like Scottie Reynolds, Corey Stokes, and Corey Fisher during his first two years on campus, Wayns came into his own as a player this past season. He averaged 17 points and 4.6 assists per game and was named to the All-Big East Second Team. Despite his individual success, the Wildcats did not make the NCAA Tournament, and after the season Wayns decided to forgo his senior year and enter the NBA Draft.
Thompson made a name for himself in the Big East as well, playing for Georgetown the past three seasons before declaring for the Draft. He was one of the best shooters in the Big East this past season averaging just over 12 points per game while shooting 46 percent from the field and presents significant matchup problems for many at the two-guard position with his 6’8″ frame.
Dime: Where did you do your pre-draft training?
Maalik Wayns: I trained in Las Vegas at Impact Basketball.
Hollis Thompson: I trained at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas.
Dime: Describe an average day during pre-draft training?
MW: Get up in the morning around 9 and I’d go in for my first workout around 10. We got a lift in and did a core workout in the morning, then in the afternoon I would come back around 2:30 and play either three on three or five on five, and do some skill work. At night I would come in and get shots up.
HT: Wake up, work out in the morning, all morning, get something to eat then come back in the afternoon.
Dime: What was your diet like the last two months?
MW: Actually at Impact they feed us and had us on a really strict diet. So every day they would bring these platters of food with like turkey burgers and different types of wraps, stuff like that. That’s what they had us eating over the whole month and a half to two months.
HT: A lot of hotel food, fly into a city and teams comp the room service. The hotel food was cool and teams would take you out to a restaurant, and at Impact they had a chef for us.
Dime: What area of your game do you think you improved the most during the last two months?
MW: Definitely my decision making on the screen and roll, which came from playing pickup a lot. Also, my jump shot, those are the two areas where I made the most improvement.
HT: Really just fine tuning everything, my handles, my jump shot, stuff like that.
Dime: What do you think the one thing is about you that stood out to teams during these workouts?
MW: I think my work ethic really stood out. The way I play defense and how hard I play, I think I was the hardest working player in every workout I had and teams could definitely notice that.
HT: Just that I can really score the basketball.
Dime: Who was the toughest player you had to guard in a workout?
MW: Well, actually I’d say it was definitely Tu Holloway and Dion Waiters, who both worked out at Impact with me. It was really tough going against them each day, and I think they were the toughest players I had to guard during the whole process even though we didn’t do any team workouts together.
HT: Not too sure about that one.
Dime: What was the weirdest interview question you got?
MW: There’s a whole lot of them. Let me think, probably the weirdest was ‘What does three and three mean to you’? I said three and three, I think of six. I didn’t know what to say and that’s what came to mind so I just said six.
HT: Somebody asked me ‘What does two and two mean?’
Dime: What was your worst flight experience?
MW: Definitely going to Cleveland from Las Vegas. I had a flight at 12 in the afternoon and that wound up getting delayed till 4:00, then it got delayed again until 7:45, then got delayed AGAIN until 11:40. I actually didn’t wind up getting to Cleveland until eight in the morning the next day, and I ended up having to go right to the workout from the airport cause the workout was at nine. Then I worked out as soon as I got there.
HT: Probably having a middle seat, that was terrible.
Dime: What’s the nicest hotel you stayed in?
MW: The hotel in Utah, The Grand Hotel, I liked a lot. I really liked it because it reminded me of the Waldorf Astoria in New York. We used to stay there during the Big East Tournament and any games we had in New York. That was always one of my favorite hotels and this hotel in Utah felt like that.
HT: The hotel in Toronto, that was really nice. It was really high class, you put your card in a slot and the lights come on and everything was automatic.
Dime: What was your favorite memory from the whole process?
MW: I would say just getting to go around and to work out in these facilities. Everywhere I would go, it was different and it was cool to see all the different ones. Also, a lot of teams had guys working out there and getting ready for Summer League and every city you go to it was like you felt like a part of that team when you were there.
HT: Getting to meet all the NBA guys and compete in front of them.
Dime: What is the funniest story you have from the process?
MW: I’ve got to think of a good one. Actually, me and Tu Holloway are really good friends and we roomed together in Vegas and worked out together the last two months, and I gave him the nickname ‘Little TuTu.’ We didn’t work out at the same places at the same time, but we worked out against a lot of the same guys. So every time I would see one of the players he worked out with they’d be like ‘Yeah I worked out with Little TuTu’ and everybody was calling him that. He hates that nickname, and that’s what everyone was calling him, so I gave him a nickname.
HT: Funniest story, I don’t have one that I can share with you.
Dime: What was your least favorite part of the whole process?
MW: Just the amount of hours I spent in airports, that’s really it. I’m blessed for this situation, but really didn’t like being in those airports for so long.
HT: Definitely just all the flying and all the travelling. Fly somewhere, go to sleep, wake up, then work out and fly again. I had so many workouts that I never really had a chance to take a break. I left Vegas in May and just finished today (Tuesday before the Draft).
Dime: If you could change anything about the way you went about the last two months, is there anything you would change?
MW: I don’t think I would change everything, I would do everything the same.
HT: I wouldn’t change anything.
Dime: What’s the best advice or best lesson you got from someone during this process?
MW: Just control what you can control. Don’t worry about what pick you’re going to go, don’t worry about what the mock drafts say or what they are writing about you. You can just control what you can control and don’t worry about the stuff you can’t. So that means going into the workouts and doing the best you can do and playing the hardest you can play, that’s what controlling what you can control means. You can’t control the outcome or what’s going to happen on June 28th, that’s out of your hands.
HT: Just to enjoy the process and have fun with it.
Dime: If you had to give advice to someone who goes through this process next year, what would you say to them?
MW: I would tell them it’s going to be tough. Also, for guys leaving school early, never second guess yourself, or let people tell you that you made the wrong decision. Whether you go drafted or undrafted just stick with your decision. Another thing is to just attack these workouts like these teams have never seen you play before. Pretend you are a nobody and that is the first team these people are seeing you play, like it is their first impression and just go out there and get it.
HT: Prepare for a long grind and try to get some frequent flyer miles if you can.
How do you think Maalik Wayns and Hollis Thompson will fare in the NBA?
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