ORLANDO – The NBA represents the highest level of achievement a basketball player can obtain. Hoping to realize that dream, former South Florida center Kentrell Gransberry participated in the NBA’s four-day pre-draft camp in Orlando.
The camp, which ran Tuesday-Friday at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex, showcased some of the biggest names from the 2007-2008 NCAA basketball season.
“It’s such a great honor to be here,” Gransberry said after a game Thursday. “All the guys are just out here, working hard and having fun. It’s really exciting.”
Gransberry had a strong beginning as the only player to grab 10 rebounds in a game through the first four games of the camp.
His early performances did not go unnoticed by NBA personnel.
“(Kentrell) did a good job,” Phoenix Suns’ General Manager Steve Kerr said. “He’s physical, he takes up space in the lane and he did a good job.”
The former Bull also impressed Atlanta Hawks’ assistant coach David Fizdale, who coached Gransberry on Thursday.
“I think, surprisingly, that he has great footwork and soft hands for such a rugged guy,” Fizdale said. “I was very impressed by the way he caught the ball and his understanding of the game. He’s obviously been well-coached.”
Gransberry was trying to lock up a second-round spot in the June 26 draft. The Orlando camp allows coaches and scouts an opportunity to find such players.
“We’re not here to look at a first-round pick,” Kerr said. “We have the 48th pick in the draft, and our pick is probably going to come from somebody out of this group.”
To make it into the NBA, Gransberry has been working out in Philadelphia with another camp attendee, former Kansas State forward Michael Beasley.
Beasley, who is projected to be one of the first two players selected in the draft, enjoyed working out with Gransberry.
“Since I’ve been working with Kentrell, he’s been getting better and better,” Beasley said. “He works all day. You can’t really tell when he’s tired. He’s a real great player and a great kid.”
Though coaches had a lot of positive things to say about Gransberry, he said he had things to work on.
“I just need to take this one day at a time,” Gransberry said. “I didn’t do too great (Thursday), but I’ll get back out there and keep working hard.”
Fizdale said Gransberry should be himself.
“I would tell him not to be afraid to take his 15-footer,” he said. “He can’t be afraid to play his game.”
Fizdale also said that Gransberry handled the pressure of the event well.
“Kentrell takes a very professional approach to the game,” he said. “A lot of these kids put a lot of pressure on themselves. If they put too much pressure on themselves they start doing things that they can’t do, or shouldn’t do. If they stay within in their framework and continue to do what got them here and continue to relax, play the game and enjoy the moment, things usually work out for them.”
For Gransberry, the event was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“It’s been fun playing with these guys,” he said. “It’s exciting to play in front of (NBA coaches and scouts). I’m just happy to be here.”