After seeing limited action his first two seasons at Georgetown, Vernon Macklin thought it was time for a change. So he decided to transfer to Florida, and went on to average 10.6 and 11.6 points, respectively, in two standout seasons for the Gators. Now Macklin, known as a hustle player and the guy that gets the dirty work done, finds himself preparing for the NBA Draft. I had a chance to speak with him about his experiences the last few years and got his thoughts on the upcoming draft.
Dime: How have your workouts been so far?
Vernon Macklin: It’s been going well. For the most part it’s kind of tiring going to a lot of workouts, but I’m pushing through and working hard every chance I get to go in there and prove myself.
Dime: What’s it like being at a workout with all of these other guys vying for the same thing as you?
VM: It’s very intense. Everybody’s trying to get a job. You’ve got guys coming at you every single possession. You’re playing hard every time you get on the floor, so it’s very intense. You want to do everything right in front of the teams.
Dime: Take me through what happens at workouts.
VM: First they just talk to you about the workout, let you know to go in, play hard, don’t try to do anything you’re not used to doing. Like don’t make a fool out of yourself. Go in there and just play and do everything to the best of your ability. And also cheer guys on because we’re all fighting for a position. But at the end of the day they want to see how you work with guys on your team, that you cheer guys on. They want you to go in there and work together for the most part. And you do a bunch of competitive drills to start off with. Some shooting drills. They just want to see how competitive you are. And if you’re not playing good they want to see you still cheering other guys up. That’s basically what it’s all about.
Dime: How would you evaluate your performances so far in your workouts?
VM: I think I did pretty good. I played defense pretty well, I put the ball in the hole on offense and I just hustled. I did a lot of good things that teams like by being physical every single possession. So I think I did great in workouts.
Dime: Throughout the draft process, have you talked to any Florida guys who have gone through it before?
VM: I talk to Marreese Speights and I talk to guys from Georgetown who have been through it. They’re just telling me how just how tough it is. You do 12, 13 workouts, you’re on a roll, like, all the time. You have to be able to take care of your body and get rest and go in there and be able to compete so it is tough.
Dime: What are your expectations for the draft?
VM: I just want to keep on working hard. Got a couple more workouts left to prove myself in front of teams and hopefully some teams call me back to come back in and work out so I can do some more work and just be able to hear my name on draft day and just be able to play.
Dime: What can you contribute to an NBA team that others can’t?
VM: I think I can bring a lot of physicality to a line. I can also rebound and do the dirty work that a lot of players don’t do in the NBA. I can do those types of things. Chase rebounds and close out situations, hedge on ball screens, a lot of different things.
Dime: How would you best describe yourself as a player?
VM: I would say low-post physical on offense, on defense, both ends of the floor. I want to be physical with the ball in my hand and without the ball in my hand.
Dime: Is there a specific team that you think your game would fit well with?
VM: Basically any team that needs help in the front line. Guys that can come off the bench and just play hard every possession. So any team that needs help in the front line I can go in there and help right away.
Dime: How was it going to your hometown of Portsmouth and competing in the tournament there?
VM: It was great. I got to go home and see my family, some friends and also was able to play in front of them. A lot of my family didn’t get to travel down to Florida and watch me play because it’s too far. I got a chance to play in front of a lot of people who didn’t get to see me firsthand so it was great. I enjoyed it.
Dime: Looking back, what was it like being a five-star recruit?
VM: It was okay, it was pretty tough. That’s why I decided to transfer to play against better competition because I felt as though staying in my neighborhood and playing the competition I played against wasn’t helping me out as much. So I think transferring was a great thing for me and also making the McDonald’s team was great.
Dime: Are you happy with the decision you made to come to Florida for two years after spending your first two at Georgetown?
VM: I’m pretty happy about it. I think Coach (Billy Donovan) took a great risk in taking me, transferring from a school and not playing as much. But I think I went in there and played hard for him for the two years. And I sat out a year, I learned a lot from him and a lot of guys. So I think it was a great fit for me.
Dime: How did it feel to make such a deep run in the NCAA Tournament this year?
VM: It was good. I’m happy we made the run. It’s been a while for Florida to be back and playing good basketball. So us making a run to the Elite Eight and being able to compete every single game in the tournament was great for us. It was also great for Coach Donovan and the whole program.
Dime: What are your plans for Draft Day?
VM: I’m going to watch it with my parents and my family and some of my friends back home and just see what happens.
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