As we briefly detailed yesterday, outgoing USC guard Dwight Lewis has a solid chance of being selected in the second round of today's NBA draft. Today, we'll catch up with him.
The draft — airing right now on ESPN — features plenty of talent at the top but is believed to decline somewhat around the mid- to late-first round. That could work well for Lewis and his former USC teammate, Marcus Johnson, who both have hopes of going somewhere in the second round.
Lewis and Johnson were two of the Trojans' top three scorers during the 2009-2010 season, combining for more than 23 points a game. Lewis led the squad in scoring in both his junior and senior seasons, but he became known among Pac-10 observers also for his defensive acumen and strong motor on the court.
A New Orleans native, Lewis is currently in Texas, where he moved prior to his senior year of high school because of Hurricane Katrina. Now, Lewis and his parents call a Houston suburb home. Here's what Lewis said Thursday:
Question: Your hope, of course, is to be drafted. What do you think the chances are that happens tonight?
Answer: Yeah, I'm hoping to be selected. But hey, whatever happens, happens, right? Some teams like me but I don't really know for sure.
Q: What teams did you work out for and what did you like about each of them? Any you liked more than the others?
A: The Mavericks, Hornets, Bulls and Rockets. They're all great. I just want to play in the NBA, doesn't matter where.
Q: You've essentially been preparing to audition for NBA teams for the last three months, since USC's season ended. Do you feel like you're improving at the same time or do you feel like you're just trying to show off what you already accomplished in college?
A: Kind of both, actually. You're trying to show what you've done already but by doing that you're also kind of honing your skills more, so you're trying to show that.
Q: In your workouts with NBA teams, did you get the opportunity to match up against anybody projected to be a first-rounder? Were you impressed by them and did you feel you held your own?
A: Gordon Hayward, James Anderson, the New Mexico guard, Darington Hobson. Yeah, definitely.
Q: In conversations with NBA coaches and scouts, how do they see you helping out their team in the future? What can you do at the NBA level?
A: They've said they think I can be a defensive asset for them, shoot the ball sometimes and get some points.
Q: When you came into USC four years ago, was this scenario that you expected?
A: Well, this was always my dream. But when I was going to college I just wanted to be a good college player, try to help my team win. I wasn't thinking about this stuff too much.
Q: Whether or not you're drafted, there's certainly a precedent for second-round or undrafted guys fighting their ways through the ranks and becoming key cogs for NBA teams, even starters? Can you see yourself doing that?
A: Yeah, I can. It basically all depends on how hard you work, and I work hard enough to be in the league and eventually be a starter.
Q: Have you talked to your coach at USC, Kevin O'Neill, about the pre-draft process? What'd he tell you? As a former NBA guy, he knows quite a bit about how the whole system works
A: Yeah, I did. He knows a lot about it. He just told me, "Keep working hard, keep your head up, and everything will work out.'' That's pretty much it.
Q: So what's the plan for tonight? Obviously you've been waiting for this moment for a long time, but there's nothing you can really do about it now, is there?
A: Nope, there's nothing you can do really right now. I don't think I'm gonna watch, I'm just gonna hang out with some friends and wait for the phone call, I guess.