The NBA draft process is a once in a lifetime experience for those who go through it. While there are many broad similarities between the experiences of players during this process like hectic travel schedules and grueling pre-draft training, each player takes something different away from the process. I decided to talk to ten different players eligible for this year’s draft to ask them all the same set of questions to use as a means of comparing their experiences.
Up today is former Kentucky shooting guard Darius Miller, who was drafted by the Hornets, and former LSU center Justin Hamilton, drafted by the Heat. Miller is one of the rare seniors on John Calipari’s teams but his leadership and team first attitude were a big reason why the Wildcats won the NCAA Championship this season. Despite being a starter for the past two seasons prior to this last one, Miller gave up his starting spot to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and became the team’s sixth man. He thrived in that role, winning SEC Sixth Man of the Year while coming in and making big shots, as well as playing defense for Calipari, and ultimately landed himself on an NBA roster.
Hamilton was the star player for the Tigers this past season in his first season with the team after transferring from Iowa State. After sitting out a year after the transfer, Hamilton made an immediate impact with his size and shooting ability. As a seven footer, he has range out to 18 feet and the ability to post his man up as well. He averaged nearly 13 points and seven rebounds per game before declaring for the Draft.
Dime: Where did you do your pre-draft training?
Darius Miller: I trained in Indianapolis with Ed Schillings and Mark Peters.
Justin Hamilton: I trained at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas with Andrew Moore and Joe Abunassar.
Dime: Describe an average day during pre-draft training.
DM: We went twice a day. We went at 9:00 and then at 2:00. We did a lot of on-court stuff for two hours at nine, then at two we did a lot of flexibility work and strength training off the court. We worked out Monday through Saturday, with Sundays off.
JH: Waking up at 8:30 and going to work out at nine. We would have an on-court workout from 9 to 10:30, and then at 11 lifting for an hour. Then we would get lunch, then at around 2:00 or 3:00 we would do agility work before playing pickup or three on three, and then getting more shots up. After that was just relaxing and getting ready for the next day.
Dime: What was your diet like the last two months?
DM: Way different. It was way different than what I had been eating. I was eating much healthier food and watching what I eat and what I put into my body. Soft drinks, and stuff like that were off-limits. I drank a lot of water more than anything as opposed to juice and sugary drinks like I used to.
JH: The diet was just to eat healthier overall and eliminating fried foods and fatty foods. I ate a lot of chickens and vegetables and you want to make sure you still have the calorie intake but eating healthier foods.
Dime: What area of your game do you think you improved the most during the last two months?
DM: Probably ballhandling. I also improved my body a lot in terms of getting in better shape and toning my body up a little bit.
JH: I think I improved my body tremendously while getting ready for this process. I really slimmed down and became much more toned. I think I improved in a lot of areas on the court, just an overall improvement, but shooting was probably most improved.
Dime: What do you think the one thing is about you that stood out to teams during these workouts?
DM: Probably my versatility and how much I really try to work at everything. I feel like I really got to show what I did at Kentucky and more than that, in terms of everything I am capable of doing on the court.
JH: The way I shoot the ball and my competitive, hard working mentality. Also, the fact that I’m more athletic than people give me credit for.
Dime: Who was the toughest player you had to guard in a workout?
DM: (Laughs) I don’t know honestly, I’ve had a lot of great workouts. I’ve gone up against Moe Harkless, Draymond Green, Jeff Taylor, and a bunch of great players so I was always going up against guys that were talented.
JH: Marquis Teague (laughs). I’ve had quite a few workouts lately where it was just me with a bunch of guards, so it’s been kind of tough. He tried to steal the ball from me a lot cause I was playing on the outside and I tried to keep him in front of me and make him shoot jumpers instead of getting to the basket for layups.
Dime: What was the weirdest interview question you got?
DM: People keep asking me that. I didn’t get any weird ones to be honest. Most of them were pretty similar like ‘How can you help our team?’ or stuff like that. I didn’t get any super weird questions. The hardest question to answer though was ‘Who was the best teammate you had at UK?’ I never really gave an answer to that one though.
JH: In Charlotte, they were interviewing me and I’m getting married this summer so they started quizzing me about how much I loved my fiancé. It was kind of like the father of the daughter talk, asking me all these different questions about her so that was weird. I also got asked in Utah, ‘What is one thing and one thing?’ and had to try to figure out what that was. That was really confusing.