Later today, 60 dreams of becoming a pro basketball player will be realized at the 2015 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
But while fans get to see the finished products walk on stage, hundreds of hours of preparation goes into making dreams a reality.
Most potential first-round picks declare for the NBA draft in April. That gives them only two short months until the NBA draft on June 25. In that time, players have to transition from being regular college students to professionals.
“The process is crazy,” former Arkansas big man Bobby Portis said. “I’ve never been away from my mom or outside of Arkansas this long. I just have to remember, every kid doesn’t get to experience this.”
During that time, players have to focus on improving their bodies to professional caliber and connecting with NBA teams.
“I went out and trained in Santa Barbara,” former Wisconsin Badger Frank Kaminsky said. “I stayed there probably five or six weeks with some workouts in between. I wanted to learn about myself as an athlete.”
UCLA wing Kevon Looney said he’s done lots of running and yoga to transform his body. Several players added they have had to address their diets to move on after college.
The lead-up to the draft can be a strenuous process. Many players work out close to a dozen times for various NBA teams, depending on their projected place on draft boards.
When a team wants to see what a player can do, they organize a flight and a hotel room for the player the night before. “You’re actually just alone in hotel rooms a lot,” Portis said. “It’s surprised me how much I have to fly. You don’t really think about it going in, but you’re flying pretty much every day.”
The workouts typically begin 9 a.m., and prospects are put through a whole process. Players run through drills in front of scouts and basketball executives and undergo several medical tests to address vitals.
“It’s a lot, but each place you learn something new,” former UCLA forward Kevon Looney said. “You learn how to work.”
But even though players are meeting coaches, scouts, and other people on their draft journey, it’s ultimately a solitary experience.
After living in a structured environment during college, players have to go through the next step in their careers on their own.
Former Kentucky guard Devin Booker’s dad, Melvin, played briefly in the NBA after an All-American career at Missouri. Devin said Dad gave him some great advice during the process.
“He’s told me to have a short memory,” Booker remembered. “And that’s stuck with me both on and off the court. When I was young, if I missed two shots in a row, that would be it from me. But at this level, you have to act like you made your last one.”
“That applies to life too,” he added. “If you have a bad day, you have to forget about it and move on to the next day.”
The 2015 NBA Draft takes place Thursday, June 25, at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast live on ESPN.
Photo: Wisconsin's Sam Dekker shoots during a Utah Jazz pre-draft NBA basketball workout Friday, June 19, 2015, in Salt Lake City. (Rick Bowmer/AP)