College, NBA, NBA Draft / Jul 1, 2008 / 1:00 pm

Jerryd Bayless: Pro Tools

Jerryd BaylessJerryd Bayless (photo. Brandon Sullivan)

*Reprinted from Dime #42, on sale now*

Jerryd Bayless has considered himself a pro long before making it to the NBA. But don’t be fooled by the suits and the superstar smile. He’s a competitive madman who is hell-bent on wreaking havoc at the next level. Before we got with the Blazers’ rookie to film his NBA Draft Diary, we featured him in the current issue of Dime.

Looking more like a hitman than a 19-year-old college freshman, Jerryd Bayless struts down the tunnel of Arizona’s McKale Center in a crisp dark blue suit with a tie boldly knotted flush against his shirt collar. The Wildcats aren’t required to come to games dressed like contract killers. While his teammates might as well have pulled jeans off of their dorm room desk chairs and found tees from a pile of laundry before showing up at the arena, Bayless dresses like a professional. And the fact that he could pass for a professional basketball player or a professional assassin in these threads might be a coincidence. But don’t bet on it.

“People notice,” says former UA guard Jawann McClellan, who was the only Wildcat to join JB in formal attire before games. “We got complimented all the time. It’s about carrying yourself like a pro.”

Since his first day on Arizona’s campus following an All-American high school career at St. Mary’s H.S. in Phoenix, Jerryd has carried himself like an NBA star. He’s been spotted around Tucson with his iPhone pinned to his ear. He’s got a superstar smile and an assertive, confident voice fit for a press conference. When we got up with him in Phoenix in early May, he had a team of handlers helping him juggle a sizable media crush — three different interviews and multiple photo shoots over the course of one weekend.

It’s almost as if he’s known all along that he would have somebody else managing his time down to the very minute — the voice message of one of his former cell phones directs callers to e-mail him because that number has presumably gotten out. “You’ve reached Jerryd. I recently turned this phone off. If you’d like to get in touch with me, please e-mail me at …”

But in reality, that public relations professionalism is only Jerryd’s public skin. While he’s gifted enough to coolly handle his celebrity, he’s not Hollywood. Even if he’s got the look, he’ll never be the star who shows up on “SportsCenter” because of his social life. He’s too mature for any of that. Bayless doesn’t even play video games.

“If I walked through the arena and he wasn’t there working, I was surprised,” says Kevin O’Neill, Arizona’s head coach during the ’07-08 season who replaced Lute Olson while the Hall of Famer was on personal leave.

“He’s a serious guy about his craft. He takes his craft very seriously,” says McClellan. “He is as competitive a dude as I’ve ever been around. He doesn’t partake in foolishness away from the basketball court.”

And he doesn’t take part in any nonsense on the court, either. Bayless doesn’t toil out on the perimeter, sizing his man up and down, waiting to make a move. By the time his defender is in proper position, Bayless is already exploding past him on his way to the tin, or rising and firing jumpers. He’ll tell you his goal is to “kill” his man every time he steps on the floor. He’s a madman, who is hell-bent on “destroying his opponent at all costs,” says former Arizona assistant and current Memphis assistant Josh Pastner.

There’s really no limitation to Bayless’ competitive drive. When O’Neill’s coaching methods — “yelling at Jerryd for shots he made and shots he missed,” as McClellan says — incited madness within his star player, Bayless set out to prove his coach wrong.

“That’s just what makes him so great,” says Pastner. “He’s got that fire, he’s got that instinctive ability to take things as a challenge when somebody is telling him he can’t do something or somebody’s not giving him, in his opinion, the respect he deserves.”

A little more than a month before the NBA Draft, we talked to the future Lottery pick about what has brought him to this point.

****

Jerryd BaylessJerryd Bayless (photo. Brandon Sullivan)

Dime: When talking to you, you come off as really easy going and laid back, which is a stark difference from the on-court killer we’re used to seeing.
Jerryd Bayless: I don’t really know what it is. When I get on the court, it all changes. I treat every game as my last. I’m going out there, I look at the other person – I’m trying to pretty much kill the guy guarding me. People might look at me like a wide-eyed assassin on the court, but off the court I’m a pretty easy-going guy. I don’t take nothing too serious. I just enjoy life, I guess.

Dime: You want to “kill” the guy? That’s intense.
JB: (Laughs) I don’t literally want to kill the guy. It’s the competitive nature that I’ve been brought up with. I’ve been playing against older people my entire life. I remember how much losing used to bother me when I was younger. It’s carried over until now. I really don’t like to lose. No matter what it takes, I’m gonna do it to try to win that game. If it requires me to do things that are kinda bad, I guess I’d have to do them.

Dime: Where does that come from?
JB: I don’t really know exactly where it comes from, but it’s just been with me ever since I was young because I hate to lose so much. My parents and my brother used to do little things like that to test me. If I didn’t want to do something, they knew to make it into a competitive situation. They knew I’d end up doing it. It’s carried over with me for everything I do.

Dime: Some people have said that you’re all business all the time, wearing suits around Arizona – do you already consider yourself a professional?
JB: Basketball in college was supposed to be fun. But I always try to carry myself in a professional way. Wearing suits to the games – I tried to wear suits and nicer clothes to the game, and just give off the image that I’m trying to give off. On the court I try to be an assassin. But off the court, I want to be known as more of a professional. For my whole career I’m going to follow those ways.

Dime: Talk about your upbringing. You’re not the stereotypical hard-knock basketball story because you come from an upper middle class background.
JB: I feel like I always get the label. In basketball terms, I’m a light-skinned brother pretty much. I’m light-skinned and people know that I come from an upper-middle class family. I get the label as being soft. That’s always made me crazy on the inside – people thinking that I’m soft. It makes me wanna kill them even more when I’m on the court with them. I just hate the stereotype that comes with being from upper-middle class, being light-skinned and being more of a “pretty boy.” That’s a label I’ve always had.

Dime: Do you try to compensate for that label?
JB: I think there’s a toughness as a way to compensate for it. I’ll never be soft. I’ll never act soft in any way. I think that’s the best way to quiet the people that have those opinions.

Make sure to check out Jerryd’s Dime Draft Diary, chronicling every step of his journey from his house in Arizona to center stage at Madison Square Garden…

TO READ THE REST OF THIS STORY, PICK UP DIME #42 ON NEWSSTANDS EVERYWHERE.

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  • rodnets

    Hey, stop posting articles of this cat. Who is interested in knowing anything about him. He is no MJ or Lebron prospect, is he?

    However if you have sponsors on da kid, keep the posting.

    Peace

  • Blue

    did he just call himself a pretty boy?

  • Truth

    We’ll see how much of an assassin he is when he gets to the league?
    @rodnets
    I agree with you, give me some beasley articles.

  • Michorizo

    Pretty boy has a pretty jacket on

  • hahns

    nah, keep em comin, i love these all access player profiles

  • Damon

    larry bird is an idiot.

  • Truth

    @Damon
    Sh*t what’s new! LMAO, They did keep Jamal tinsley? Should give you an idea of how dumb he actually is! LMAO!!

  • Celts Fan, “Kobe, Tell me how my @$$ tastes”

    @Damon COMPLETELY AGREE. I thought he was gonna be the 3rd best player in this draft (and a star) as it was before reading this. Hearing the kind of attitude he has, I’m more sure than ever. The Blazers are building a dynasty and have STUDS at the 1, 2, 4, and 5 and have a really nice stable of guys at the 3 (Outlaw – who I’d keep and give every chance to stay there, Batum – I think they out-thought themselves and shoulda kept Dorsey and Arthur, but if he’s legit, then there’s the answer, and Martell Webster who’s only their best 3 pt. shooter)

  • Ejay225

    Stop hating… He’s a stud, and always has been. If you recall, he was up there in the “best guard” discussion with Rose and Gordon. Blazers are going to love him. He can pick and pop, has a sweet stroke, and won’t be responsible for all of the ball handling. He’s in a perfect situation, and I haven’t even mentioned the double team LMA and Oden are gonna pull down low!

    If he can take advantage of his natural athletic ability and talent, we got a great lead guard in Portland. At worst, we got a Bobby Jackson (well, absolue worst would be DaJuan Wagner). More likely, we got ourselves a Monta Ellis!

  • http://nbaroundtable.wordpress.com/ Dave

    Excellent pickup for the Blazers

    Himself and Roy will be a great combination. Their skill sets balance each other nicely. Should be good defensively too.

  • bill

    great article dime – thanks!

  • n8

    His professionalism will mos def carry into the NBA. Great pickup by the blazers. They changed their reputation from when bonzi and rasheed were there now that they got a solid core there with roy and oden, and now him.

  • HAIRRAISER

    I love this kid. He shows good mental toughness, and professionalism that hardly exists anymore. He sounds like a tenacious kid with a lot of class.

  • http://OregonLive RipCitySon

    This kid has the toughness that the Blazers could use a bit more of. And getting Diogu along with him was a nice addition.

    I have a feeling that Bayless is going to get good run, even under McMillan. That makes 3 impactful rookies on the roster for Portland, say it with me, “Oden, Rudy, Bayless.”

  • DocProc

    I hope his assassin mentality rubs off on Greg Oden. Imagine a 7ft 280lb 40″vert killer on the court. That will be an unstoppable force.

  • Sashland

    Thanks for the insight into Bayless.

    KP/team are so good. They had it figured that the sixth guard would fall to #11 and pre-arranged the trade for Rush/Jack. Portland luck’s out that the best Italian restaurants are in NY, Love lost a few pounds, Alexander moved up, and Bayless fell into their lap. Great fit for need and top caliber talent from a #13 pick. Thank you indiana.

    Other Post/Point pairs to compare to Oden and Baylesss?

    Envision developing together for a few years. Nightmare!
    #15: Yes, I smell a floor leader. He will push Oden and those two will WORK to get the timing down. Controlled toughness will be a very good quality to infuse in a winning mentality.

    On the other side of the court LaMarcus and Roy. Not fair!

    & Webster Outlaw Fernandez sitting on 3s.

    Plus Solid bench. This team is built; free agent optional.

    The last team anyone will want to see in the playoffs…
    and they will be so for more, sooner, than most people project.

    This is gonna be fun to watch!!!

  • Sashland

    Thanks for the insight into Bayless.

    KP/team are so good. They had it figured that the sixth guard would fall to #11 and pre-arranged the trade for Rush/Jack. Portland luck’s out that the best Italian restaurants are in NY, Love lost a few pounds, Alexander moved up, and Bayless fell into their lap. Great fit for need and top caliber talent from a #13 pick. Thank you indiana.

    Other Post/Point pairs to compare to Oden and Baylesss?

    Envision developing together for a few years. Nightmare!
    #15: Yes, I smell a floor leader. He will push Oden and those two will WORK to get the timing down. Controlled toughness will be a very good quality to infuse in a winning mentality.

    On the other side of the court LaMarcus and Roy. Not fair!

    & Webster Outlaw Fernandez sitting on 3s.

    Plus Solid bench. This team is built; free agent optional.

    The last team anyone will want to see in the playoffs…
    and they will be so for more, sooner, than most people project.

    This is gonna be fun to watch!!!

  • Sashland

    sorry for the double post.

  • glen mac

    you betta bring it to portland, jerryd.

  • glen mac

    #1 thru #4 = haters

  • John Hadley

    I have been a Blazer season ticket holder since 1978, the year AFTER our only championship. Getting Bayless was a major move for the Blazers. He is a scorer, but also a great defender with a lot of energy and natural talent. But what many people are forgetting is how young the Blazers really are, and I think expecting too much too soon. Greg Oden will need to learn a lot this year and in years to come. And so will Jarred Bayless. But the real Portland Trail Blazer fans will be cheering them on regardless of this year’s results. We have a great team of young men with so much talent and a great coaching staff, management and ownership. Kevin Prichard, Paul Allen and coach Nate and all of our great scouts have selected some really good draft choices thesae past few years and we now have some real solid young men that are a source of pride to our small city. Martell Webster, Travis Outlaw, Brandon Roy, Lamarcus Aldridge, Greg Oden, Rudy Fernandez, and now Jarred Bayless. And do not forget our other Spanish guard Sergio as he will also really come of age this year by the side of his friend Rudy Fernadez. These are our net draft choices the past 3 years. It will be well worth the wait and a lot of fun watching our young team come together under a great coach like Nate McMillan. The Pacific Northwest will be cheering for Jarred Bayless to really show the NBA what he can do. But he will not even start for now as Steve Blake is the starting point. Jarred needs to understand that Brandon Roy is the leaqder of the Trail Blazers and that he needs to work with Brandon to fit in and become a great guard tandem for many years to come.