Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Traveling men

Bruins' Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee have endured cross-country trips this month in hopes of improving their draft stock

By Jon Gold Staff Writer
The Los Angeles Daily News
Posted: 06/20/2011 11:27:30 PM PDT
Updated: 06/21/2011 01:17:54 AM PDT

This is their lives now, the decision to leap to the NBA made long ago, and now Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee are caught right in the thick of it.

Both are jet-setting across the country, have been for a month, trying to convince one of 30 teams to take a chance, any chance, a little higher than expected. With Honeycutt slated for anywhere between the late-teens and late-20s, and Lee trying to push his way into a crowded first round, they need every opportunity.

On Monday night, Honeycutt was in Dallas for a workout and dinner with the NBA champion Mavericks, not even able to take a phone call.

Lee, meanwhile, was caught at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport on Monday afternoon, about to take off for Minnesota for a tryout with the Timberwolves.

"You're pretty much in a new city every day," Lee said. "It can be really exhausting. You have to take care of your body - eating right, make sure you stay hydrated, keep stretching and icing. I've been on the road a month straight. When it comes to workouts, I have to be ready to perform."

Honeycutt can relate.

Last week, Honeycutt worked out for the Washington Wizards, Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Nets in three consecutive days, his final workout Thursday showing the ill effects of life as an NBA first-round hopeful.

"To be honest, it's probably the worst workout I've had so far," Honeycutt told the Newark Star-Ledger on Thursday. "Just normal, easy stuff I usually make wasn't going in today, so just a little rest will help."

But rest is for the weary, not the young, and certainly not the young who can run and jump and dunk.

This is where they find themselves, though, after leaving UCLA with question marks.

As a sophomore, Honeycutt was named All-Pac-10 after leading the conference in blocks (2.1 per game) and finishing seventh in rebounding (7.2 rebounds) while averaging 12.8 points per game. Still, NBA scouts wonder about his strength - he did not put up a single rep in the 185-pound bench press during a recent combine - and his durability and decision-making.

For Lee, the questions are about his offensive output, though his performance on defense in many workouts has been fantastic. Lee, who was also named to the all-conference first team and all-defensive first-team, averaged 13.1 points and 3.1 rebounds as a junior at shooting guard for the 23-11 Bruins, who advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

But Lee is being looked at as a point guard at the next level, as well, and his performance at the position for UCLA as a sophomore in 2009-10 was unimpressive.

"I look forward to things like this. Auditioning gives you an (opportunity) to rise to the occasion, especially with my situation," Lee said. "I came in with the mindset that I wasn't getting drafted, that I'm not known. That underdog mentality. It allows you to perform better under pressure. It's either kill or be killed, basically."

What could help both is the much-discussed "UCLA Factor" that is making its round through basketball circles.

The success of lightly touted Bruins in the pros - including Jrue Holliday, Darren Collison, Russell Westbrook, Arron Afflalo and Luc Mbah-a-Moute - has trickled down to Lee and Honeycutt (How about Kevin Love, John? --Atb). All five have been valuable starters for playoff teams, but only Westbrook was a lottery pick, and even his ascendancy to the top crop of NBA point guards was unforeseen.

"Being able to be controlled on offense, not really take unnecessary shots, letting plays develop - I think that's what gives UCLA the edge," Lee said. "At UCLA, we have the opportunity to execute plays. When we get into the NBA, we execute a lot better and the floor is a lot more spread."

At least that's what these traveling salesman are pitching, a product less tangible than shower curtain rings or steak knives.

Lee and Honeycutt are peddling hope and potential, trying to hock their talents around the country, come one, come all. ABC: Always Be Closing.

On Thursday, it will be decided.

Honeycutt is expected to travel to New York for the draft; Lee is not sure if he'll even watch.

"I know it's going to hit me (today) after Minnesota," Lee said. "I won't have any more opportunities to perform in front of teams. I'm still debating if I'm going to watch it or not. I don't even know. I think my nerves are going to be too crazy. I'd rather get a text.

"I don't know if I can sit there pick after pick after pick. At the end of the day, whatever happens, I'll be grateful I had the opportunity to be in this position."

Click on panel below to enlarge

To check out's mock draft (which has Honeycutt Rd 1 #25 to Celtics and Lee Rd 2 #38 to Rockets), click here.

To check out's mock draft (which has Honeycutt to the Spurs Rd 1 #29 and Lee to the Clippers Rd 2 #37), click here.

Draft Central at (link)

June 23, 2011 7 pm ET on ESPN and ESPN3

Good luck, Tyler and Malcolm!

No comments: