Wichita State Shockers

NBA Draft Q&A with former Wichita State star Fred VanVleet

Fred VanVleet celebrates during the second half of Wichita State’s 70-50 win over Vanderbilt on March 15.
Fred VanVleet celebrates during the second half of Wichita State’s 70-50 win over Vanderbilt on March 15. TNS

Former Wichita State guard Fred VanVleet will watch Thursday’s NBA Draft in Rockford, Ill., with friends and family. After six weeks of travel, he is ready for his NBA workout marathon to end. Drafted or not, he will know more about his basketball future in the coming days and that is a relief.

“Physically, I am drained,” he said. “I have nothing left to give after traveling to 18 different cities on 50 different planes. It’s a grind for sure. Mentally, I’m really excited for (Thursday). At this point, I just want to know where I’m going one way or another, whether that’s drafted or undrafted. I’m ready for the next phase.”

VanVleet appears unlikely to land one of the 60 draft spots, although CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish slots him No. 59 to Sacramento.

If he is not drafted, VanVleet will start fielding calls from NBA teams and decide which one he wants to play for in a summer league. If he plays well there, he could get an invitation to a team’s training camp in the fall. If he doesn’t stick, he will be a prized acquisition for a team overseas, where his salary could start around $65,000. He could choose to stay close to an NBA team in the NBA Development League, where salaries range from around $15,000 to $25,000, according to USA Today.

“From a measurables standpoint, from a pure-talent standpoint, he might be the least toolsy point guard in the draft,” Sam Vecenie of CBSSports.com said. “From heart and I.Q., all of those intangible aspects, he might be the best point guard in the draft. I have him right on the precipice of the NBA Draft. I think he is going to carve out a career as a third point guard. He is one of those kids who I genuinely believe will work until his heart stops beating.”

Here is a Q&A as the draft approaches:

Q: Which workouts did you feel best about?

A: I felt good about Memphis, Orlando. Those two were probably my best. Brooklyn, I did well. Sacramento. I had a lot of good workouts. I scored it, made shots, made plays, won all the drills, that type of thing.

Q: How much feedback do NBA people hand out after a workout?

A: It’s pretty vague — ‘We loved you, he did great, blah, blah, blah.’

Q: What part of your game do feel improved the most since May?

A: Shooting. I did a ton of reps, a ton of shots. If I had to sum it up, it would be a bunch of shots and 3-on-3. That’s pretty much all that goes into this stuff.

Q: You worked out with basketball trainer Chris Thomas in Indianapolis before and during workouts. How did his training help?

A: It helped a lot athletically, functionally. Getting me ready for the testing, getting me ready for the grind, being in shape, having the legs.

Q: How much of a challenge was the NBA distance (22 feet in the corners to 23-9 at the top of the key) for three-pointers?

A: It’s tough when you’re tired, for sure. The work that I put in in April and May, I was prepared. Chris did a great job getting me ready for that.

Q: What was your worst travel story?

A: I went out to Oakland a day early, got there, settled in. Had my workout the next day about 2 p.m. Got done about 4:30 and headed to the airport. My flight was at 7:30 to Houston. It was probably a three, four hour flight, getting me to Houston about 1 a.m. We ended up getting stuck on the runway for an hour-and-a-half, two hours and don’t take off until 10. Don’t get into Houston until about 2:30 a.m. Don’t get to my room until 3:30 from the airport. So I didn’t get to sleep until 4 a.m. I had to wake up and work out at 8 a.m. for the Rockets. I did really well, it just took me about 45 minutes to wake up. That was one of my better workouts, competitive-wise. I didn’t have any legs. I was just going off pure mental toughness.

Q: Did you work out for any teams twice?

A: No, Philly tried to call me back, but I didn’t have any room for them in my schedule.

Q: What kind of conversations did you have with NBA coaches and front-office types?

A: It’s always fun to meet guys who are well-respected in their fields, like Coach (Tom) Thibodeau (Minnesota), a lot of GMs. Head coaches that come to workouts and are actually involved and talked to you. I really liked (Coach) David Fizdale of Memphis. He was really good with us, talking with us and helping us. He was really active and involved. It was neat to meet coaches who have followed college basketball a little bit and they really respected what we did at Wichita State. They had a great respect for our program and what we accomplished.

Q: Where will you watch the NBA Draft?

A: I’ll have a bunch of family and friends to a restaurant to watch and celebrate. Regardless of what happens, we’ll celebrate the process. I didn’t have a graduation party, so if I don’t get drafted, it will be my graduation party. If I get drafted, it will be my draft party. I’m kind of hedging my bets in that sense.

Paul Suellentrop: 316-269-6760, @paulsuellentrop

NBA Draft

  • When: 6 p.m. Thursday (ESPN)
  • Where: Brooklyn, N.Y.

Shockers in the NBA Draft

2014 — Cleanthony Early, New York Knicks, second round

1987 — Henry Carr, Los Angeles Clippers, seventh round

1985 — Xavier McDaniel, Seattle SuperSonics, first round (No. 4 overall)

1985 — Aubrey Sherrod, Chicago Bulls, second round

1983 — Antoine Carr, Detroit Pistons, first round (No. 8)

1982 — Cliff Levingston, Atlanta Hawks, first round (No. 9)

1981 — Randy Smithson, Kansas City Kings, eighth round

1979 — Cheese Johnson, Golden State Warriors, third round

1977 — Bob Elmore, New Jersey Nets, fourth round

1976 — Robert Gray, Seattle SuperSonics, fifth round

1974 — Bob Wilson, Chicago Bulls, third round

1972 — Terry Benton, Detroit Pistons, sixth round

1972 — Ron Harris, Milwaukee Bucks, fifth round

1968 — Warren (Armstrong) Jabali, New York Knicks, fourth round

1967 — Jamie Thompson, Los Angeles Lakers, seventh round

1965 — Nate Bowman, Cincinnati Royals, first round (No. 7)

1965 — Dave Stallworth, New York Knicks, first round (No. 3)

1962 — Lanny Vn Eman, Syracuse Nationals, sixth round

1962 — Gene Wiley, Los Angeles Lakers, second round

1961 — Ron Heller, Chicago Packers, seventh round

1956 — Bob Hodgson, Minneapolis Lakers, 11th round

1955 — Cleo Littleton, Fort Wayne Pistons, fifth round

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