Undrafted? Keep Your Head Up
With the NBA draft taking place tonight I can’t help to think of what it means to be drafted for any of the fortunate 60 players tonight, or, better yet, what it means NOT to be drafted.
From my experience working in and around minor league as well as professional basketball, I learned just how many opportunities and roads less traveled actually exist for those not granted their wish to play in the NBA right after time spent in college, or as a young foreign player with big stage aspirations.
I have a pretty good idea of what needs to take place in order for a player to position themselves on say Draft Express, or any of the other mock NBA draft websites out there. But, I have an even better understanding of the players not shown in any of the mock draft websites out there. The guys who at this time are instead helping out their Alma mater with hoop skill camps for high school prospects, or are posting a workout at their local Y via Instagram from a buddy’s phone following their noonball run.
These are the guys I know. These are the guys who won’t obviously be selected tonight, but still have plenty to look forward to career wise.
You see, nowadays in the basketball landscape there are tons of options and avenues for young hopefuls to use in order to carve out a career in the game. But, just as it is incredibly difficult and requires endless amounts of hard work to be drafted, it also does to use a path not as traveled or explored to the desired destination by so many.
Paying out of pocket for international flights, tryouts on top of tryouts, on top of tryouts, showcase camps, draft combines (of the international variety), and numerous Facebook, Twitter, Instagram private messages weeding out what is real and what is a scam. All of this (and plenty more) is what a player with professional hopes encounters at some point in their journey.
A lot of what I just mentioned is assisted by agents and their interns (if a player has dedicated representation), but guys without representation often find their way through the muck on their own. It is the grind in addition to the work that must be put in at the gym. It’s 24/7. A lot of guys, especially those who did not think of themselves needing to, or having to wait it out for circumstances to unfold get impatient and complain. They ultimately quit. They can’t handle the not knowing, the uncertainty, the hard work. I have seen it time after time.
But I have also seen the successful.
I have witnessed the guys who didn’t let an unfortunate tryout experience hold them back. Guys who kept chomping at the bit, taking low paying contracts in unknown countries with the bigger picture in mind. It truly is inspiring stuff. You watch a young man become a grown man in just a season of the professional grind. They have to, or else they’re washed away and quickly at that.
So, for the guys out there who don’t hear their name called tonight by the commissioner, have a plan, work that plan and if that plan doesn’t work out right away keep going. Keep your head up. A door won’t open unless you keep knocking and sometimes that is all it takes. Be relentless.