by VidurMalik and Lauren Shute
Later today, the basketball world will focus its attention on the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The home of the Nets is also the site of the 2013 NBA Draft. But before any picks are made, the year’s top prospects had to meet the media.
On Wednesday, thirteen of the most talented players in this year’s rookie class sat down at the Westin New York hotel in Times Square to answer all kinds of questions — from how they feel about being so close to their dreams coming true to what they’ll wear at the draft.
The group included potential number-one pick Nerlens Noel from Kentucky, former Kansas star Ben McLemore, Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller from Indiana, Pitt center Steven Adams and budding international star Alex Len.
The players sat at tables, calmly waiting for waves of reporters to come their way. They were relaxed in the face of dozens of reporters, tape recorders and cameras. But perhaps the loosest of the bunch was Adams.
The seven-footer cracked jokes about sharing the court with stars he’s seen on TV and about how many Americans don’t know much about his native New Zealand. The jokester even tried to pull a fake crossover on Noel as he walked into the media room.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so for me it’s gotta be fun,” Adams said. “It’s gotta be serious, but then it’s gotta be fun. There’s a time and place for it, I think the time and place to have fun is all the time. That’s all I’m doing.”
Some players are letting the fans in on the fun, too.
Zeller and Noel asked fans to go online and vote for what suit they should wear at the draft tomorrow. This is a big responsibility — a player’s suit choice is analyzed almost as much as his game. But the two big men said they enjoyed letting the fans have a say.
“A lot of fans can’t see what’s going on behind the scenes, so I wanted to give them a chance to pick my suit and see me wear it tomorrow,” Noel said.
Zeller added that he could use some input. “I have no fashion sense at all so I gave [the fans] a couple good options to pick from.”
But in between joking around and asking for fashion advice, the players got serious about what the future holds. They dreamed about playing in the NBA since they were kids, and now they’re almost, finally, there.
“I’ve worked extremely hard to get here and now it’s kind of up to the NBA teams to decide who they want,” C.J. McCollum, a guard from Lehigh, said. “I’ve done my job, I’ve worked hard. I’ve done well in interviews, I’ve done well in workouts, now you kind of just sit back and try to enjoy the process and take it all in.”
For more coverage of the 2013 NBA Draft, check out the SI Kids blog!
Photos: (from left) Ben McLemore, Nerlens Noel, Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller pose for portraits during media availability as part of the 2013 NBA Draft. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)