Former Deerfield star Andre Young is currently in Las Vegas, hoping to make the Golden State Warriors’ Summer League team that begins play Friday.
LAS VEGAS — By the end of the day Thursday, former Deerfield-Windsor basketball star Andre Young will know where he stands with the NBA.
Young, who was invited to the Golden State Warriors’ Summer League last week after not being selected in the 2012 NBA Draft, is currently working out with the team in Las Vegas and expects to find out Thursday whether he’s made the 15-man Summer League roster. If he doesn’t make it, he says he’ll chock up his first trip out West to Sin City as simply yet another stepping stone and learning experience on his journey to achieving his dream.
“You never really know what’s going to happen (as a result of these tryouts). All I can do is go out there, play my game and be happy for the opportunity they’ve even invited me out here,” Young told The Herald during a telephone interview late Tuesday. “This is a business trip, so I’m just going to work hard, but I’m also going to enjoy these next couple of days and hope for the best.”
The NBA has two Summer Leagues, one in Orlando, Fla., and one in Vegas. Orlando’s kicked off Monday, while Vegas’ starts Friday when the Warriors tip off against the Los Angeles Lakers at 8 p.m. in a game that will be shown on NBA TV.
Both leagues last about two weeks, with Orlando’s carrying 18 teams, while Vegas’ has a record 24 this season. Each team’s roster has between 12-17 players, and Young said his understanding is that the Warriors will trim their 21-player roster down “to 14 or 15” on Thursday.
Young, who just finished a stellar senior season at Clemson, also realizes it’s crucial for a prospective NBA player seeking a job to perform well enough in Summer League tryouts to stick around for the two weeks of games. After all, Summer League games are nationally televised and ultimately become a tryout for every NBA team, all of which have multiple scouts on hand at each game.
“I’m just trying to hit my shots, not make mistakes and stand out that way. Obviously, I’m here feeling as though I’m trying out for the Warriors — because they’re the ones who gave me an invite — but you know that if you can just make that roster, you’ll get a chance to play in front of the entire NBA world,” he said. “We’ll just have to see what happens Thursday.”
Young’s agent, Adam Pensack, said Tuesday that it’s not impossible to still make a NBA roster if you’re not chosen for a team’s Summer League — but it does make it a lot more difficult.
“In my conversations with the Warriors, which were positive, they made it clear that they’re bringing Andre in for a reason. They like him, and they want to see more of what he can do,” said Pensack, referring to Young’s pre-draft workout he also had with Golden State. “But in the case of every guy trying to make a squad, these next couple of days for Andre are big as far as his future. Ultimately, what you have is 450 jobs in the NBA, right? And there’s 45,000 guys out there who want those jobs, right? So it’s a battle. It’s a battle to go in there, beat out a lot of other hungry guys and make the cut when they whittle down that roster.
“As a first-year guy, Andre just has to go in, compete and, essentially, take someone’s job. And there’s no question he has what it takes to do that.”
Young, who arrived in Las Vegas on Sunday and had his first practice Monday, said that — so far — it’s hard to know where he stands after two days of workouts.
“You don’t really know what they’re looking for, so you just play, compete, go after every ball ... things like that,” he said. “Most of all, I’ve just been learning a lot. The NBA is a different brand of basketball from college, so there’s a lot of lingo and terminology I’m learning, and the teaching style is different. I’m really enjoying it.”
An experience he didn’t quite enjoy, however, was June 28 when he sat at home in Albany with his family and watched the NBA Draft unfold. Young’s name was never called, despite two reportedly solid pre-draft workouts with the Warriors and Kings, and verbal interest from other teams around the league like the Hawks, Bobcats, Spurs and Lakers.
Young said he never let his emotions get too high or too low before, during or after the draft.
“I really didn’t have any kind of expectations. I was more looking at it as a chance to be able to hang with my family for a little while since I hadn’t been back home much lately, and I was also happy for a lot of the guys who I know (and who I played with in college) that did get drafted,” said Young, who ended his senior season at Clemson as its starting point guard, ranked in the upper-echelon in more than one category, including 12th in scoring, sixth in assists, second in steals, third in 3-point percentage and second in assist/turnover ratio. “It would’ve been great to hear my name called, but I knew that even if I didn’t, there would be other opportunities awaiting me afterward, like the Summer League and playing overseas.”
Pensack acknowledged before the draft that the 5-foot-9 Young was likely on the outside looking in because of how deep the 2012 talent pool was. But he was surprised that the Warriors were the only team to extend a Summer League invite.
“Somewhat (surprised), but typically the number of pre-draft workouts a player gets dictates the amount of Summer League interest there is,” he wrote in an e-mail to The Herald last week. “We got two pre-draft workouts and one summer league invite. It only takes one team to like a player and this is a great opportunity for Andre.
“The feedback was actually all really good. Of course, they both had questions about his size. Other than that, they liked his quickness, shooting, energy, defense, vision, and ability to make the right decisions consistently.”
Pensack said he can’t predict the future for any of his clients, but he has little doubt that Young’s future is as a professional basketball player.
“Andre will 100% be playing professional basketball next year. We have a lot of interest abroad and the D-League is a slam dunk if he wants to go that route,” he wrote. “The real question is can Andre make the NBA for next year. (The Summer League tryout) is just the first step but it’s a huge first step in the right direction.
“We have a lot of interest abroad and that could be the direction we go in if things don’t work out in the NBA. If Andre plays well for the Warriors there is a chance he could get additional opportunities with them down the line or with any other team in the NBA. Summer League is essentially a job interview with every team in the NBA since Andre is a free agent who has the ability to sign with any team that is interested in him before, during, or after summer league.”
In the meantime, Young plans to soak up all that Vegas has to offer.
Well, sort of.
“This place is hot,” Young said, speaking both literally of the 100-degree Vegas temperatures and figuratively about the city of lights and fast living that’s unlike no other in the world. “I’ve just been chilling — not going out too much or anything like that. And I don’t know how to play poker, so I’m staying away from all that.
“Like I said before, this is a business trip.”