Donnie Walsh, Billy King, Rod Thorn, P.J. Carlesimo and other NBA team executives and scouts descended upon the PNY Center, the Nets' training facility in East Rutherford, N.J., on Saturday morning for the inaugural New Jersey NBA Draft Combine.
Many agreed the day's best performer was former Providence star Jamine "Greedy" Peterson, who impressed onlookers with two things that the Knicks need: interior athleticism -- the 6-foot-6 forward had a couple of posterizing dunks -- and rebounding. As a junior with the Friars in 2009-10, he averaged 10.2 boards to go along with 19.6 points.
Peterson is not your typical NBA draft prospect. He was dismissed by Providence last year for a "violation of team rules," which he cleared up in a story for The Hoops Report. After leaving campus, he headed to Greece, signing with the Kolossos Rhodes basketball club, but he was released after only playing four games. He then joined the New Mexico Thunderbirds of the NBA's D-League, where he suited up for 36 games, averaging 13.4 points and 5.9 rebounds in only 23.6 minutes of action.
The deadline to withdraw from the draft is tomorrow, but Peterson -- a Brooklyn native and a Knicks fan -- is not dropping out. He signed with an agent, T.J. Doyle, and is projected to be, at the very least, a second-round pick. But he could jump to the latter part of the first round.
After 22 prospects participated in the workout, which was hosted in conjunction with the Knicks and Rockets, I spoke with Peterson.
Being that you're a Knicks fan, what was it like having them here watching you?
It was real good. It's basically a dream. I've been waiting for this moment to happen.
Why did you decide to come out and tell your story about why you were punished by Providence?
Well, basically nobody really knew the true story. There were a lot of rumors going around and stuff like that. It was to set the record straight, so I had to do that.
How do you have to prove to NBA scouts that all that's behind you?
Basically showing them that I'm a good guy; I don't have a bad image. Just being mature day in and day out on and off the court.
Have you gotten any feedback about where you're going to go in the draft?
I haven't had any feedback yet. They're basically saying, "Show me that you can defend and play the three, and then you could be a late first-round pick."
What are you working on this summer?
I'm basically working on my weakness: defending. I know I can score, I know I can rebound, so I took the time in the D-League improving my jumpshot and making it be consistent. I just want to be a better basketball player overall. I'm basically working on my overall game. Me coming off the ball screen, lateral movement and basically balance and defending.
What was your experience like playing abroad?
It was a good experience. It was kind of like slow-paced; not like the up-tempo style I like to play. There's a lot of tough guys out there. I learned a lot overseas.
Would you recommend other guys to go overseas if there is a lockout?
Yeah, I'd recommend that so that they can go out there and show them that it's not just the U.S. that has good basketball; it's also overseas. You can learn a lot. Basically, they teach you fundamentals and skill sets.
Is that something that you'd consider again?
Yeah. That's something I haven't decided yet, but most likely if [there's a lockout], I'll go there.
Being that this was your first environment around all these team executives and scouts, how did you approach today differently?
Well, coming in playing in front of NBA scouts, you get nervous. But once you step on the court, then you gotta just play. Don't worry about anything; just compete and show them what you're capable of doing.
With the Knicks specifically, they had a tough time rebounding this past season. How could you help them with that and anything else?
Basically whatever the coach wants me to do, I'm just going to go out there and do it -- rebounding, screening, basically being a good teammate.
Who else impressed you out here today?
I like "Tu Tu" Holloway. He's from New York. Ashton Gibbs played good. He didn't really shoot the ball; he just was working on passing, showing that he can be a point guard.
What are some of your favorite streetball courts in New York?
I like West 4th, I like Rucker and the Kingdome. There's a lot of them out there.
Outside of basketball, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I like just hanging with my friends playing handball.
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