Kansas State University

Pullen hopes travels lead to draft-day call

MANHATTAN — After working out for 11 teams and speaking with more NBA personnel than he can remember, Jacob Pullen is growing accustomed to the life of a professional basketball player.

That's not something he imagined so shortly after his brilliant four-year career at Kansas State, but somewhere along the way of his ongoing audition tour for Thursday's NBA Draft he got used to the daily grind.

"It's different, but it's what you sign up for whenever you get a job in the NBA," Pullen said by phone. "There are going to be days when you have to travel and days when your schedule is hectic. It's not bothering me. You just have to be prepared."

Pullen did his best to make sure he was ready the moment his college playing days came to an end. He immediately hired former NBA player Byron Irvin as his agent, reached out to former No. 2 pick Micheal Beasley for advice and started communicating with interested teams.

By helping the Wildcats reach three NCAA Tournaments and becoming the program's career scoring leader, he generated plenty of interest. His outside shooting and his talents as a defender have long made him a possible second round selection.

That led to workouts with Portland, Miami, Charlotte, Minnesota, Toronto, Detroit, Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles Lakers, Denver and Golden State.

How many miles did all that travel add up to?

"Man, I have no idea," Pullen said. "I've been to every coast, though. East Coast, West Coast, even Canada. It's been a long journey."

Soon it will be over. Pullen plans to watch the draft from his Chicago-area home with his family, and though he has no idea what will happen he is confident in his chances. At the beginning of this process, he said he could see himself being taken earlier than the projections indicated.

Pullen said he has received positive feedback from all the teams he has played in front of, with the best coming from the Bobcats and Pistons. K-State coach Frank Martin said nearly every team in the league has called to ask about his former standout player.

"Jacob has picked up some steam here of late," Martin said. "He's had some very, very good workouts. He was great at the combine in Minnesota. We've had teams over the last three weeks doing their due diligence. They're asking the questions you ask when you're really, really interested in a player."

Pullen said he's tried to be himself at workouts.

"I've just been trying to do what I do best," Pullen said, "score the ball and defend, stay in position."

He has also tried to show off his personality and public speaking talent. Much of his time with teams has been spent off the court, answering questions about his personal life. Some players would feel uncomfortable in that setting, but not Pullen, who was one of the most media-savvy players in college basketball as a senior.

Will that help Pullen's chances later this week? It's impossible to say. But when Pullen was asked about his expectations in between workouts with the Trailblazers, he answered like a seasoned professional who understands the business.

It's what he's grown accustomed to.

"I still think I can sneak into the first round," Pullen said. "A couple of the teams I've worked out for have late first-round picks. I think I've impressed them. It's just all about what they need and whether they think I can help right away. But you never know. It all depends on that day. You don't know what they're thinking until the end."