On Friday afternoon, representatives from 25 NBA teams will descend on Bloomington in conjunction with the IU basketball program’s first ever Pro Day. That figure is according to Stadium’s Jeff Goodman.
With so many prominent eyeballs inside Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, head coach Mike Woodson suspects he’ll be able to save his motivational tactics for another day.
“I think they (the players) are excited about it really, to be able to let the NBA world come in and watch practice and see who’s doing what. Hell, it might enhance them to play harder and better,” a grinning Woodson said.
Pro Days are a growing trend at the college level, no doubt in part a recruiting tactic to highlight to prospects the visibility they’ll receive if they come to this school or that.
But at Indiana on Friday, it’s the current players who will benefit from the inaugural event.
“It shows that they’re (IU) serious about us getting to the next level,” fifth-year senior forward Miller Kopp said on Thursday. “I think it’s great. I’m excited, the guys are excited, and I think recruits will be excited too.”
Many thought senior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis would never see a fourth year at IU. But he’s still here in large part because the league still wants to see him make 3-pointers.
If they watch his college film, the NBA will never find a 3-point make to this point.
But on Friday, Jackson-Davis said he plans to state his case emphatically.
“It’s not even that they want to see me shoot 10 threes a game. They just want to know that I can shoot them,” Jackson-Davis said. “I think at this Pro Day I want to shock a lot of people because of the way I have been shooting the ball here in practice as of late.”
Jackson-Davis is just one player on the team with a shot to play at the game’s highest level. Freshman point guard Jalen Hood-Schifino would be another with a discernable path. Plenty of others come to mind as players, with a key skill development here or there, who could ultimately be in the conversation.
Woodson wants to shine as much light as he can on their potential.
“I think when you’ve got high expectations and you’ve got a few players that might have a crack at playing at the next level, it’s okay to invite the NBA world into your life,” Woodson said. “I’m not afraid of that. I don’t think it put any added pressure on our players.”
For Woodson, who spent more than 35 years in the NBA as a player and coach, inviting the NBA to Bloomington comes natural. In a way, he’s bridging the two worlds that have meant the most to his life outside of his family. And he said he welcomes the opportunity to continue to develop the relationships he’s fostered for more than half of his life.
But Kopp, who transferred in from Northwestern last year, doesn’t believe an open door with the league is encouraged consistently at the college level. And he thinks high school players will start to see the differences in approach.
“A lot of times I think some colleges are afraid and don’t want to talk about the NBA or anything like that because they may think it takes away from the focus of “now” and the need and the want to win now,” Kopp said.
“But I think our staff and coach Woody and (IU AD) Scott Dolson, they’re not afraid to swallow that pill about guys who want to come to college because they want to go pro.
“That’s where I think the best players in the country in high school have aspirations and dreams of going to the NBA, so guys in high school I think will see that and see how serious this program is and this school is about getting guys to the league and having success here so you can have success at the next level.”
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