What were Honeycutt and Lee thinking?
posted by Adam Maya, staff writer
Orange County Register, UCLA Blog
June 24th, 2011, 11:00 am
Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee had no guarantees upon leaving UCLA early. They have none entering the NBA, not even so much as a contract after falling to the second round Thursday night.
The underlying question is, Why?
Why run to a league that is all but certain to have a lockout? Why enter a draft in which most experts have pegged you to go in the second round? Why leave the most storied program in the sport and spurn the advice of your coach when you might contend for a national title if you return?
What sounds like a complicated set of questions has a simple answer: above everything else, they believe in themselves.
Like many of their peers, this has been Honeycutt’s and Lee’s mindset throughout their basketball lives, and it’s what has gotten them this far.
“There were no teams giving any promises,” said Honeycutt, who went No. 35 overall to the Sacramento Kings. “I heard from 12-30, my range was so wide (before turning pro). There was no telling where I could go.
“I’m going to go out there to try to show a lot of teams they made a mistake today. But I’m not doing it for them, I’m doing it for me. I’ve been doubted a lot in my career, told what I can and can’t do. I have great confidence in my ability and what I can do.”
This is the way he thinks, the way players think.
When asked why he thought he slipped out of the first round despite initial projections to land there, Honeycutt made what might prove to be a salient point should he ultimately prosper in the NBA.
“A lot of it I think is my body and wondering if I could play at the next level at my weight,” the 6-8, 187-pound Honeycutt said. “There are a lot of things you can’t see and weight is something you can see.”
Honeycutt then offered his own take on that: “I think I’m the most athletic player in this draft.”
Lee’s confidence after being selected by Chicago at No. 43 and then traded to Minnesota was just as resolute. He even believes he’s going to make it as a point guard, despite most analysts pegging him as a 2-guard.
“I’m real confident,” Lee said. “I’m just going to go in there and compete. I know they’re loaded with point guards but I just feel like I can also play the point. I want to show them I can play the point.”
It was interesting to hear Lee and Honeycutt each categorize their situation as a “blessing in disguise.” It’s exactly the sort of thing people say after making what everybody else would consider a bad decision.
“I’m not a regretful man,” Lee said. “I look at it as a perfect situation. I’d do it again. It’s been my dream ever since I was little. They could have said I was going to go 60.”
It’s that type of conviction that now has both Lee and Honeycutt in the NBA, ready or not.