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Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Just Pick Me Already: Zabian Dowdell, Take 3


This is an INSANE time of year for those players hoping to be picked in the NBA draft. The logistics alone are pretty bad: most are running from city to city trying to put on the basketball show of their lives in private team workouts, while spending hours and hours stuck on crazy flights and in strange hotels. Normal patterns of eating and sleeping are abandoned entirely. On top of all that, they're about to become millionaires. Or not -- if they mess up these workouts. And they're about to move somewhere, to some city, where they will take orders from coaches they are in most cases just meeting for the first time now. Through all the stress, pressures, and miles, the players are supposed to be majestic, undaunted, and charming. It's exciting, it's bizarre, and it's weird. Starting now, and through the draft, TrueHoop will be following the emotional experience -- with repeated interviews -- of a handful of draft hopefuls. We're calling it "Just Pick Me Already."

So far we have heard from Zabian Dowdell twice, Morris Almond twice, Jared Dudley, and Petteri Koponen.

Last time we heard from Zabian Dowdell, he was heading back to Florida after completing a string of ten workouts. I called him a couple of hours ago to check in and see if he's finally getting a moment to catch his breath.

Zabian, how's it going?
I'm headed back to the airport right now. On my way to Seattle for a workout.

Sam Presti has probably seen you play already, right? Was he at one of your workouts in San Antonio?
Sam Presti was there for my first workout in San Antonio. And I also worked out for [new Sonic assistant GM, formerly of Detroit] Scott Perry. Guess they wanted to take a second look at me.

These workouts right before the draft ... they're meaningful, right? Teams wouldn't waste their time if they weren't serious. Is there going to be anyone else there?
I don't have a clue if there will be anyone else there. I am just going to show up and be ready.

What picks do they have?
Seattle has 31 and 35.

Some people say it's better to be a high second-rounder than a late first-rounder, right?
Yeah, it's better to have a two year deal and then get to your second contract after two years, instead of having the team control your third and fourth seasons. Either way is fine with me.

How long were you in Florida?
Just like three days. I worked out a little, got some treatment on my ankle, and then I got the news from my agent that I was going to Seattle.

Who pays for all that travel? The teams?
Most of the teams pay for the travel. I think you can't do that for underclassmen, or something. But the teams usually handle the flights and the hotels and everything.

They fly you first class?
Most of the teams do.

What's first class like? I've never been there.
It's pretty nice. The seats are a little bigger. The food is nicer. But I'm not a hard guy to please.

But you have like a 6-9 wingspan! You need room for those arms!
That's the worst part. When you're in coach, stuck between two big guys.

And these days in coach, a lot of times they don't bring you any food at all.
They might give you a little drink and some peanuts, but that's about it.

So, you sound pretty happy about this Seattle trip.
I've heard some real good things from Seattle. They have been saying some good things. They called me in on short notice. And Sam Presti and Scott Perry, they have both been part of title teams. Those guys are more than capable of putting together a great franchise. I'm excited they want to see me again.

I guess now you just have to go kick some a--.
Still gotta go to work and show them what you can do. Everywhere I go, I just leave it all out on the floor. I'm a confident guy. If my shot is falling or not, I'll just stay aggressive and I believe it all takes care of itself.

You could end up playing point guard alongside Kevin Durant.
That would be great. 

In your days off, did you work out?
I worked out once in the last two days. I sprained my ankle in Dallas. Actually, I sprained it in Orlando, and then it kept getting reaggravated. So I got some therapy on that. But I hate sitting around, so it's good to be getting back on the court.

What do you do with the ankle, you tape it?
Just put it in an ankle brace. It's not that bad. Part of the game. You're going to be banged up. Maybe one of these days, like next year or something, I'll have a couple of days off and it can heal up. 

So after Seattle is it back home?
I have one more workout, on Thursday, but they don't want me to say where.

Wow. That's coming right down to the wire. Are you getting nervous about the draft?
The nerves really haven't hit me yet. Don't know when that starts. The day of the draft? That evening? I never was the type to fold under pressure.

Maybe you're one of those lucky guys who just won't get nervous ... so, with that workout on Thursday, are you going to be able to get home to see your family on draft night? 
Hopefully I'll be there in time. The draft starts at seven. It's about 30 or 40 minutes from the airport to the house. As long as I don't have some kind of delay, I should be OK.

If you get stuck in some airport on the night you're drafted into the NBA, you'll have to throw yourself some kind of party in an airport TGI Friday's or something.
I'll have to find something.

Then what happens Friday?
Early the next morning I'm back in the gym in Bradenton, which is two hours away.

Wow.
That's the price you have to pay. I'd rather be doing something than nothing, though. And whether I get drafted or not, I'll need to be ready to impress some people in summer league.