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 10 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 is former Vanderbilt shooting guard John Jenkins. In his three years at Vanderbilt, Jenkins was known as one of the best shooters in the nation, making nearly four three-pointers per game this season. He improved his game every year evolving from a spot-up shooter as a freshman to a better all-around scorer and willing defender at the end of his junior year, and this evolution in his game made him feel ready to leave for the NBA.
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Dime: Where did you do your pre-draft training?
John Jenkins: I worked out in Nashville while I was still finishing up school with my trainer Drew Hanlen from Pure Sweat basketball. I did all my skill work with him and did some strength and agility training at D1 Sports. Then I went out to Santa Barbara and trained at UCSB and at Peak Performance Project.
Dime: Describe an average day during pre-draft training?
JJ: Woke up around 7:30 and work out around 8:00. We did the shooting portion of the workout for like an hour so we were done at nine. Then we went to P3 at about 10:00 and did weights for an hour and a half. Then we came back, ate lunch, took a quick nap. In the afternoon, around 2:30 or 3:00, we’d work out for an hour and a half. We were always done around four or five o’clock, and being in Santa Barbara, you’d think we would go out and want to do something at night, but it was so tiring every day. So I usually went to lay down and watch the playoffs then go to sleep and do it all over again. On Wednesday, we didn’t have P3 though and we had Sundays off.
Dime: What was your diet like the last two months?
JJ: Aw man. I haven’t had a sweet or anything fried in two and a half or three months. I’ve been eating a lot of grilled chicken, a lot of salmon, lot of vegetables, brown rice, baked potatoes. I was just trying to make the right choices because it is the most important time of my life.
Dime: What area of your game do you think you improved the most during the last two months?
JJ: I would say I got my hops back and I’m more athletic. Working with P3 really helped me out and got me stronger and more physically ready for the game. In the team workouts I really think teams got to see my athleticism and the way I moved so much better, which was something they didn’t see during the season.
Dime: What do you think the one thing is about you that stood out to teams during these workouts?
JJ: Of course, they know I’m a shooter, but I always tried to verify that when I would go to these workouts. I always tried to make sure I shot the ball well because I am a shooter first and foremost so wanted to make that impression. Then I think my defense also. My freshman and sophomore year my defense wasn’t that good, but it got a lot better during my junior year and teams were able to see that carry over to these workouts. They really only saw me play defense well for one year in college and that’s a question a lot of teams had especially with the position I play and the type of players I’ll be guarding. So I’ve been doing a really good job of that and trying to cut off any questions about that aspect of my game.
Dime: Who was the toughest player you had to guard in a workout?
JJ: Probably Jared Cunningham. Jared’s tough because he gets to the lane really well and has a quick first step. Everybody else I had played against in college or working out in Santa Barbara, and I played Jared once in college but didn’t guard him that much.
Dime: What was the weirdest interview question you got?
JJ: I didn’t get too many weird ones like a lot of my friends did. My weirdest one was probably have you ever been arrested or do you have kids, that was the weirdest for me, but nothing out of the box really.
Dime: What was your worst flight experience?
JJ: Definitely going to Miami. I had back to back workouts in Miami and Cleveland and was flying to Miami from somewhere but got delayed and didn’t get to Miami until one in the morning, and had to wake at seven, so that was tough. Then I had to go to Cleveland that next day, and was extremely tired during those three days, but other than that I didn’t have too many bad experiences.
Dime: What’s the nicest hotel you stayed in?
JJ: Definitely the one in Atlanta. The Omni hotel. It was attached to the CNN Center and they had a food court inside the hotel, and you didn’t have to go outside to get to the Hawks’ arena. You just cut through the CNN Center to get there cause the arena was attached to the hotel.
Dime: What was your favorite memory from the whole process?
JJ: Favorite memory. I think just being able to go to all these NBA facilities and see all the different ones. Like in Miami and Indiana the workout was held on their main arena floor, so that was really cool, and being able to compete in front of all the GMs from every team and just traveling in general.
Dime: What is the funniest story you have from the process?
JJ: I don’t have too many funny stories, but myself and Festus (Ezeli, a Vanderbilt teammate) were working out with the Houston Rockets and we were on the same team and we used the same terminology we used at Vanderbilt to communicate about ball screens and down screens and stuff so that was pretty funny that we were able to do that.
Dime: What was your least favorite part of the whole process?
JJ: I can’t say the traveling, but getting used to the traveling was tough. I’m not used to travelling that much from city to city in such a short period of time so it took a while to get used to it.
Dime: If you could change anything about the way you went about the last two months, is there anything you would change?
JJ: I think I had a great pre-draft process with the workouts and the way I trained, so I wouldn’t really change anything. I wish I could have started training full-time a little bit earlier but I had to finish up classes, so that’s the only thing maybe I would have done differently.
Dime: What’s the best advice or best lesson you got from someone during this process?
JJ: To always be ready to compete at all times. In college I feel like you know that but during this process, every day in a workout somebody is trying to go at you or you are trying to go at someone. You have to be sharp mentally on the court at all times.
Dime: If you had to give advice to someone who goes through this process next year, what would you say to them?
JJ: Make sure you are in the best shape of your life. Make sure you are ready to answer and feel comfortable answering all the questions they have for you in these interviews. Work on your game so that when you get to these workouts everything is kind of second nature. Just be yourself and don’t try to do anything that you are not known for doing, or force the issue.
Who should draft Jenkins?
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