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NBA Draft: What About Tu Holloway?

Thanks for everything, Tu.
Thanks for everything, Tu.

The NBA draft, you might be aware, is scheduled to occur sometime tonight. About that time I will either be revelling in another German win in Euro or locked in a glass case of emotion regarding a German loss. Either way, I won't be following the draft too closely. I just don't care that much about the NBA. What is interesting, however, is the coverage leading up to the draft. While not quite the media carpet-bombing we get before the NFL draft, it's still a pretty heavily scrutinized event.

One of the biggest question marks in the draft - at least according to what I've read - is the mental makeup of Andre Drummond. His own ex-teammate Jeremy Lamb said that his ceiling in the league "depends on if he wants to work or not." Noted college basketball analyst and road trip enthusiast Rob Dauster tweeted that "the chance that Andre Drummond actually hates basketball is much riskier than Sully's back." Not exactly a ringing endorsement. On the way to work this morning, I heard Tim Legler on Mike and Mike in the Morning stating that "70% of Andre Drummond is still pretty good," as though it was a foregone conclusion that the talented seven-footer would never live up to his potential, perpetually hamstrung by petulance and a lack of desire.

Dauster also wrote about the rise and fall of Renardo Sidney, who had been considered an NBA prospect since 8th grade. I won't reprint the article for you here, but Sidney made a series of questionable decisions that have by and large neutered his appeal to NBA scouts. He showed up to the combine this year weighing 304 pounds with a staggering 22.4% body fat. Despite that, he still had a 30" vertical without taking a step, showed good moves around the bucket, and has a 7'4.5" wingspan. Blessed with an array of natural gifts, Sidney instead got complacent and it's costing him his shot at stardom.

A player's drive is a huge part of what makes him a success. Durant, Kobe, LeBron, KG, and a host of others have built careers by taking already astounding physical talents and mating them to a consistent desire to improve. That's what the NBA is looking for. Players with talent but not drive get drafted in the second round, languish on benches for a few years, and then end up on the scrap heap of NBA history... if they make it that far.

Tu Holloway is something of the other side of that coin. At the combine, he measured under 6'. He doesn't have elite athleticism or burst. No one thing he does in a workout leaves you jaw on the floor. He's obviously talented - NCAA D-1 players are, I don't know, the top 2% of all people playing basketball - but he's not one of those guys you glance at and see NBA potential. His freshman year at X, for instance, didn't even really hint at what he would become at that level.

The one thing Holloway has in spades, though, is the ability and desire to do whatever it takes to get better. There's a reason a player who averaged 5 points as a freshman ended up leading the team in scoring his as a junior and again as a senior. He's also got a bloodless belief in his own ability, as exhibited by the countless clutch shots and free throws he knocked down for Xavier. Holloway's ceiling may not be as high as Sidney's or Drummond's, but it's sure the he'll do everything in his power to reach it.

At this point, Holloway is popping up in the second round of most mock drafts, though some of them leave him off altogether. Considering his size, the level of competition he faced, and the fact that he was the one who popularized the phrase "zip 'em up," this is not totally surprising. What also wouldn't be surprising is to see Holloway coming off the bench to make a difference for a contender, or taking advantage of an opportunity like Jeremy Lin did. Today's draft may be the end of Tu's Xavier story, but his basketball career is still just beginning.