Tyler Honeycutt, Malcolm Lee express no regrets after slipping to second round of NBA draft
Ben Bolch | Los Angeles Times | June 23, 2011 | 10:42pm
For two players who were selected in the second round of the NBA draft Thursday, UCLA's Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee seemed almost defiant about their decisions to leave college early.
"I think I'm the most athletic player in this draft," Honeycutt, a small forward who was selected 35th overall by the Sacramento Kings, said during a teleconference with reporters, pointing out his 41-inch vertical leap during predraft workouts.
Said Lee, a shooting guard who was picked No. 43 by the Chicago Bulls only to be immediately traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves: "I look at it as a perfect situation."
It's certainly not as ideal as it would have been had they been taken in the first round.
By falling into the second round, neither player is guaranteed a contract, meaning their ability to make a season-opening roster is somewhat tenuous. Their situations are made all the more precarious by the looming lockout that is expected to wipe out the NBA's summer leagues, a proving ground for young players.
Honeycutt, who left the Bruins after a sophomore season in which he scored more than 20 points in only one game, dropped precipitously from some projections that had him as a borderline lottery pick a few months ago.
"I'm going to go there and try and show a lot of teams they made a mistake," he said.
Lee, who departed after a junior season in which he established himself as a lockdown defender but was a streaky scorer, had long been projected as a second-round pick. He had hoped his decision to withdraw from school and focus on the draft would help him move up in predraft workouts.
"I feel like I competed hard, played defense and showed people I have the ability to play point guard and score," said Lee, who twice worked out for the Timberwolves. "I feel like I played real well."
Neither player expressed concern about making an NBA roster.
"I'm real confident," Lee said. "That's the competitor I am. I'm going to go in there and compete and show them I can help this team better themselves."
Honeycutt, who is 6 feet 8 and 200 pounds, acknowledged that his strength might have contributed to his draft slide. He reportedly could not bench press 185 pounds during one workout.
"A lot of it I think is my body and people wondering if I can play at the next level at my weight," he said. "... It's something I want to improve on, need to improve on and will improve on."
Honeycutt also said being drafted so late would "make me work harder in a way. I've been doubted a lot in my career and told what I can and can't do. I've been told I couldn't make it to a Division I school. Now I'm in the NBA and I'm going to keep working hard."
While Honeycutt traveled to New Jersey for the draft, Lee remained in Southern California and didn't even watch the proceedings on television. Instead, he went to see the film "Super 8," in which a train derails.
"It was just nerves and just the whole suspense of watching, people getting their names called and stuff like that," Lee said.
Lee said he was excited to become a teammate of former Bruins star Kevin Love and didn't think the Timberwolves' logjam at point guard would necessarily preclude him from playing the position at the next level.
Both Honeycutt and Lee said they had no regrets about their decisions, insisting they would declare for the draft again even if someone told them beforehand they would be taken in the second round.
"Once the season ended and I knew this is what I wanted to do, I made sure there weren't any regrets," Honeycutt said. "I don't regret it at all."
Said Lee: "Getting in the league is my dream since I was little. If they said I would go 60, I would go."
NBA draft: UCLA’s Honeycutt, Lee are regret free
posted by Adam Maya, staff writer
Orange County Register, UCLA Blog
June 23rd, 2011, 9:45 pm
Neither Tyler Honeycutt nor Malcolm Lee was betting they’d be a lottery pick when they left UCLA early for the NBA this past spring. They just hoped they would be first-round picks.
They lost that gamble Thursday night, as Honeycutt fell to the Sacramento Kings in the second round with the 35th overall pick, and Lee went No. 43 to the Chicago Bulls, who then traded Lee to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Lee had made a trade of his own earlier Thursday, opting to go to the movies to see “Super 8” rather than watch the draft on TV.
“A lot of mixed feelings,” Lee said. “I definitely thought I was going to squeeze in there (in the first round). I just got to work from here. I got one foot in the door.”
Lee might be alluding to the fact second-round picks are not offered guaranteed contracts. The 6-5, 198-pound guard, widely considered one of the best defenders in college basketball last season, said his current situation does not have him regretting his decision to leave UCLA after his junior year.
“I’d do it again,” Lee said. “It’s been my dream ever since I was little. They could have said I was going to go 60.”
Honeycutt echoed Lee’s sentiments, believing he would go in the first round but not questioning his choice to come out early.
“It was a little frustrating and the nerves set in,” Honeycutt said of the draft experience, which he took in first hand in New Jersey. “I expected to go earlier. I’m going to make the best of my situation. I don’t have any regrets. Once this season ended, I knew this is what I wanted to do.”
“I think I’m the most athletic player in this draft,” the 6-8, 187-pound Honeycutt added. “I have great confidence in my ability. I’ve been doubted a lot in my career.”
The UCLA duo became the 11th and 12th players drafted during the Ben Howland era at UCLA.