Theo Epstein, President of Baseball Operations - Chicago Cubs, once said, "The key to building a winning culture starts in the draft room. That's the one time all year when you decide proactively, affirmatively, what type of person, what kind of human being you want to bring into your organization. We want players with Character...We want guys who care about winning and prioritize it."
As the 2020 NBA Draft approaches, I try to put myself into the draft rooms of NBA Teams, and I ask myself, what do we want and need? Everyone needs good players! But besides that, what's going to set my draft pick apart from the next teams? The answer is Character. I want people in my organization that are great players, great teammates, and great citizens.
How do I find a great basketball player with even better Character? That's where intel comes into play. You have to dig to find essential character traits about prospects. You have to talk to former coaches, teammates, classmates, teachers, and friends. In my current capacity as a Grassroots Talent Evaluator, it's part of my job to build relationships with everyone I can to help players and college programs find each other. And those relationships also allow me to gather pertinent information on players as they become NBA Draft eligible.
This leads to this article's purpose, being from the state of Georgia, that regularly produces high-level basketball talent, and this year is no different. There are three potential lottery picks in the 2020 NBA Draft, Anthony Edwards from Georgia, Isaac Okoro from Auburn, and Devin Vassell from Florida State. After conducting several intense intel interviews on all three players, the standard message from everyone I interviewed was how all three players were great people, hard workers, play with a chip, and want to win.
He are a few excerpts from my interviews that better highlight the kind of people they are and how they are viewed by the people closest to them. I will not be sharing the names of the quoted for privacy purposes.
Issac Okoro || 6'6 Small Forward || Auburn University
How is he when people are talking trash?
"I mean, he hears it, but he is not going to react; it'll just make him play harder. He is a kid that always responds in the right way."
Devin Vassell || 6'7 Shooting Guard || Florida State University
What kind of kid is he off the court?
"Let me tell you something if I had a daughter; I'd want her to marry him. He is just a good kid; he's respectful, you know, "yes sir, no sir." and he's a team player. He a great player but a much better person; there is nothing more you can ask for from a kid."
Anthony Edwards || 6'5 Shooting Guard || University of Georgia
What kind of teammates was he?
"He was a good teammate team on and off the court. He never tried to use his status as the best player in the country against his teammates; he was just one of the guys. We still text a couple of times a month. When I got to college, he reached out to ask me how things were going."
In closing, I'm not predicting fame and success from any of these players. I envision three reliable individuals that can be counted on when things get hard, and any spectacular exploits on the court are just icing on the cake.