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.
Today’s interviews are with former UC-Santa Barbara star Orlando Johnson and Missouri guard Marcus Denmon. Johnson was one of the top mid-major players in America over the past three seasons and led UCSB to two NCAA Tournaments in the past three years, while also representing Team USA in the World University Games in China last summer. He averaged nearly 20 points, six rebounds, and three assists per game this past season, including 36 points in a double overtime loss to UNLV early in the season, and is now firmly on the NBA radar.
Over the past two years, Denmon established himself as one of the clutchest performers in all of college basketball, repeatedly making big shot after big shot, including one in Missouri’s thrilling come from behind win over Kansas this year. A great shooter who is incredibly competitive, Denmon averaged 17 points and five rebounds in leading the Tigers to one of the best regular seasons in program history, as well as the Big 12 Tournament title.
Dime: Where did you do your pre-draft training?
Orlando Johnson: I trained in Santa Barbara actually at UCSB and Peak Performance Project (P3).
Marcus Denmon: I trained in Santa Barbara at UC-Santa Barbara with BDA Sports, my agency had me out there to train, and also at the Peak Performance Project Sport Science facility.
Dime: Describe an average day during pre-draft training.
OJ: Average day. Wake up around seven, then get to the gym around eight. Once you get there, you do shooting for about an hour, then weights and strength training for about two hours, then there is a break. Then I’d come back in the afternoon for another two hours, and at the end of the day I would get treatment if something was bothering me. So it was a full day.
MD: I would do one workout in the morning usually around 8:00, then I’d come back and do the weight room and agility workout around 11 or 11:30 at P3 Sport Science. Then I’d come back in the afternoon at around 3:00 and work on whatever we decided to do that day. I was working out three times a day for six weeks, essentially since the season has been over.
Dime: What was your diet like the last two months?
OJ: I really couldn’t have a lot of breads, pasta, and juices, so I got rid of all that, and my body is feeling so much better.
MD: We had a nutritionist and a chef who would guide us about what to eat. So we ate pretty good meals about four times. I knew that with the amount of work I was putting in I needed to make sure I was eating right and getting the right amount of meals in, and also the right amount of liquids. I usually would eat oatmeal or something like that for breakfast in the morning, then in the afternoon I’d eat lunch, but I’d probably eat about four or five small meals per day.
Dime: What area of your game do you think you improved the most during the last two months?
OJ: I think my quickness really improved and also my catch and shoot ability.
MD: I would say my ballhandling and ability to play the point guard position. As far as running the team with the ball in my hands, that is something I set out to work on going into the pre-draft process and just continuing to work on all of those things I feel like I did well already.
Dime: What do you think the one thing is about you that stood out to teams during these workouts?
OJ: I think how I’ve changed my body really stood out, and also just having teams see me up close and personal cause a lot of them didn’t see me in college live to see if I was as good as advertised. I wanted to show them I had the whole package, that I get after it on both ends of the court and I think that’s what they saw. I get after it, no matter who I’m playing against.
MD: Me being a competitor, and my defense. A lot of scorers, and I was a scorer in college, a lot of scorers don’t have that defensive mindset, but I have that mindset. I went into workouts and I didn’t care how highly touted a guy was, I would go after them on both ends. I showed my toughness and my competitiveness I feel like.
Dime: Who was the toughest player you had to guard in a workout?
OJ: Probably Terrence Ross. He’s got great shooting ability and he’s very tall, and he’s a pretty good athlete who is able to finish at the rim. He can also get his shot off at anytime so it was a challenge guarding him, but I look forward to doing that.
MD: I would say Perry Jones. He trained in Santa Barbara with me. My trainer told me that I could help Perry get tougher and help him work on some of his guard skills with us playing one-on-one, and he also wanted me to work on scoring over Perry’s length, so it was a tough matchup for both of us but very beneficial.
Dime: What was the weirdest interview question you got?
OJ: Weirdest interview question, I got to think of one. I can’t even really think of a good one probably just ‘What kind of foods do you stay away from?’ Most of them were just about my game really.
MD: I would say that the weirdest interview question I got from a team was, and this may just be weird to me cause I’m not, but I got asked a few times whether I’m married. People are married at this stage in their life, but I’m not so that was kind of weird. I didn’t have any off the court issues or anything so there wasn’t a lot of bad stuff that teams could ask me.
Dime: What was your worst flight experience?
OJ: Man, I was coming back from Golden State to Santa Barbara and it was going to be a short flight like 40 minutes, and it was one of the rockiest flights ever. We were flying over the Pacific Ocean and we were going back and forth. I was just tripping out, I was hoping we land safe the whole time. I was hitting my head above, and everybody kept going up and down, but we were able to make it safe.
MD: I want from New Jersey to Boston, and after I went from Jersey to Boston, I had to fly back west to California. My flight from Boston to San Francisco was about five hours long I think, and when I got to San Francisco, my flight from San Francisco to Santa Barbara had got delayed twice. After it got delayed twice, I was in the airport for about three hours waiting for it to leave, it ended up getting cancelled. I had to spend the night in San Francisco and got put on an 8 AM flight the next day. Then I took a shuttle to the hotel from the airport, but the airport gave me the wrong hotel so I had to take the shuttle back to the airport. Then I had to take a different shuttle to the right hotel. I didn’t get to the hotel till about 3 in the morning and had to get up at about 6:30 to make my flight. That was definitely my worst experience.