For those of you who have already forgotten, I recently had the chance for a conversation with the newly graduated Zack Rosen, who spent last season as the on-court leader for the University of Penn at point guard. We talked about the post-draft process and his impending trip to the NBA's Summer League down in Orlando.
Now that he has returned from there, it seemed only proper to follow up and find out how the experience went. This was actually a few days ago, and I apologize, but I don't love you all, my readers, enough to pay $13 for internet access in my hotel so this could be up sooner. Don't hate me too much. Lets get on to the conversation, shall we?
Mid-Major Madness: So how was the Orlando summer league experience as a whole?
Zack Rosen: It was good. I got the opportunity to play, learn about the game, and learn the differences. I played with a great group of guys, and it was nice just to get the chance to play.
MMM: What was the biggest difference you noticed about the professional game?
ZR: The shot clock is the biggest difference. Eleven fewer seconds means a lot of things. It means that when that first good shot comes open, it has to be taken. You can't work the ball around and change sides of the floor like in college. It's also a faster game, so transition is much more important. [The] defensive three seconds [penalty] changes the way you play too. The big guys are really big - they're big in college, but this was different - and the physicality of it all is a step up.
MMM: Are you happy with how things played out with your court time and everything? (Zack averaged 20 minutes, four points and four assists per game outside of his brief eight-minute appearance in the opener, and even got some local recognition for one outing)
ZR: I just tried to make the most of the opportunities i was given; I went down with that mindset and did my best to keep it the whole time, and whatever happened, happened. Not everybody has the same system to their games - some teams roll three point guards, others play one (guard) one game and another in the next game. Maurice (Harkless) played the first two games for us and then got hurt.
MMM: Were you surprised at all at the increased pace or any of the other adjustments you had to make?
ZR: I think it's just like in any other level, whether you transition high school to college or college to pro, there are going to be adjustments - that's true for most guys, just like after you turn pro there's a difference in your rookie year versus your fourth year. The guys who had the year off (because of the lockout) definitely had a leg up. Guys like (Kansas State's) Jacob Pullen and (Washington's) Justin Holiday, they had a year of playing pro basketball overseas, and you could see it when they were playing. I don't care where you play, there's no substitute for experience.
MMM: Is there a next step for you yet? Have you heard from any teams here or in Europe?
ZR: I've got to wait until (the Las Vegas league) is over, guys there are still showcasing for their teams, and then teams will get together and make decisions. I've had a couple of offers from other teams overseas.
MMM: So you might say you now have a Plan B in place in case the NBA option doesn't pan out?
ZR: I guess you could call it that. It's weird... its tough to phrase it that way, because either way you get to play basketball. I'd play for nothing. If my career and my life was about making the most money I could, I would probably go do something else. I'll be happy to go out there and just play.
MMM: Did you make it to Disneyland after all? What did you guys do for fun?
ZR: No, never got out to Disneyland. We were in a cool area, lots of places to go out and eat or hang, so we just did that, and the guys there were great. I spent a lot of time with (former Temple star) Lavoy (Allen) since we knew each other from playing growing up and then in college, and (Louisville's) Terrence Jennings was my roommate.
MMM: Now that you've been through the draft and summer league experience, is there any advice you would give to a player like yourself that needs to make their mark through that route?
ZR: You really just have to play to your strengths. What do you do really well? Show that off. What do you do that separates you from others? If you can highlight that, you are much better off. Early on I talked to (head of Pistons scouting) Doug Ash and asked him about (Missouri's) Kim English and he said "he's making shots....he's just gotta make shots." The more shots he makes, that's his strength.
Focus on what you can do, and everything else will come out. All throughout this process, people are evaluating you. People tell you that you can't do this, we're not sure about this, can't can't can't... just don't try to be everything and stay within yourself."
Again, many thanks to Zack for his time during these interviews. I think if the college basketball landscape was full of a few dozen more Zack Rosens I think we'd all be a little better off for it. We here at Mid-Major Madness wish him luck in wherever his career winds up taking him.