Tyler Honeycutt had pretty high hopes for the NBA draft, so high, in fact, that he was in attendance at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., expecting to hear his name called during the first round.
But as the picks went on and the first round turned to the second, Honeycutt sat in the audience without a hat to put on until the Sacramento Kings took him with the fifth pick in the second round (35th overall).
"A little frustrating, a little nervousness when the first went into the second," Honeycutt said in a conference call with reporters after the draft. "I expected to go a little earlier, but it is what it is and I’m going to try and make the best of my situation."
Honeycutt left UCLA after his sophomore season and most mock drafts had him going late in the first round. Some had him as high as the top 15, so it was somewhat of a surprise that he slipped to the early part of the second round. Honeycutt said his body type -- he's 6 feet 8 but only 188 pounds --might have scared off some teams.
"A lot of it I think is just my body and people wondering if I can play at the next level because of my weight," he said. "You can teach certain things and weight is one of those things you can teach. That is something I want to improve on, need to improve on and will improve on."
He said he plans to hit the weight room hard, something he acknowledged he didn't do much of during his two seasons at UCLA, and said he was confident in his ability to succeed at the NBA level.
"I'm going to go out there to try to show a lot of teams they made a mistake today," he said.
He cited Wesley Matthews as an example of someone who had done exactly that. Matthews was undrafted in 2009, but became a starter on the Utah Jazz that season and last season signed a five-year, $34-million free agent deal with the Portland Trail Blazers.
"He did what he had to do to make sure his second contract was big and he’s making more money than Blake Griffin now," Honeycutt said.
Honeycutt, an athletic small forward, is a top-flight set shooter with good court vision, but lacks on-ball defensive prowess and has extended periods when he checks out mentally. He said getting picked in the second round will serve as motivation to correct his weaknesses.
"It’s not going to slow me down or discourage me at all," he said. "It’s going to make me work harder. I’ve been doubted a lot in my career about what I can and can’t do."
As a second-round selection, Honeycutt will have to work harder to earn his way onto the team and with a potential lockout looming, he might not have too much time in front of the decision makers to prove himself. Still, Honeycutt is confident he already has made a good impression.
"They’ve seen me work out and I can only show them more of my athleticism," he said. "I think I’m the most athletic player in this draft."
Even after he fell to the 35th pick?
"Certain teams are looking for certain things and a lot of it plays into politics," he said. "But I left that to guys who were going to make that decision tonight and it played out very well for me."