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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Read This: Josh Powell Feature At ESPN.com

This is a lengthy, but excellent, piece on former State player Josh Powell.

The focus of the piece centers around his drive and determination to get to the NBA after leaving, not getting drafted, and spending time playing ball in Europe.
Five years before Brandon Jennings and Jeremy Tyler went overseas to make some money while honing their games to prepare for the NBA, there was Powell leaving NC State after his sophomore season and heading to play for Lokomotiv-Rostov in the Russian Superleague so he could bank some coin while working on his bank shots from the wing.

"I don't think he felt that he was going to get the playing time that he thought he deserved," Knox said. "That led him to say, 'Hey look, I think it's time for me to explore other options whether it's in the NBA or if it's in Uruguay, I want to be in a situation where I'm maturing.'"

Even if he wasn't ready for the league, he would rather get paid to play for whomever than make no money with the Wolfpack and sit.

He was 20 years old when he packed his bags for Russia.

"It's a culture shock," Powell remembered. "It hits you when you're walking in the airport. It's like, you don't know where to go, you're looking up at the signs and everything's in different languages and you're trying to talk to people and they're just looking at you. It was pretty tough. It could get pretty frustrating, but I guess those types of moments make you become even hungrier because it's like -- no disrespect to the situation because I'm going to do whatever I got to do, but -- it's like I know where I want my ultimate goal and that's to be where I am now [in the NBA]. It just drove me. It was a very humbling experience and it just drove me. Being on my own, being in a different country, it's totally different than college or something like that."

He played just two games in Russia before heading to Italy where he finished the 2003-04 season, averaging 12.1 points and 8.3 rebounds. He stayed another season in Italy and got better, averaging 16.6 points and 11.6 rebounds while thinking about the NBA every day.

"It made him see that it was not where he wanted to be long term," Knox said.
The above bolded portion was my emphasis, and a spot in an otherwise great article where I think the author didn't do his homework (or misworded what he meant). Powell certainly was not a scrub riding the pine his sophomore season. He was averaging 27 minutes a game his second season and was already making a name for himself in the ACC. He can certainly be accused, in hindsight, of making an unwise decision to leave before he was ready for the NBA, but to say that he left because he was "sitting" or not getting playing time is not true.

Nevertheless, a great read and a great recap of a great story of hard work and determination.

1 comment:

  1. Josh was going back to the bench that next year. If my memory's correct, leading up to his sophmore season he was a backup and only joined the starting lineup after Illian Etimov went out with an injury.
    Illian was a better fit for Herb's offense and conventional wisdom said that when Illian was back the next year, Josh would at best lose half of his PT or at worst retake his role as a backup. I hated to see him elect to turn pro but understood his reasons. He saw the handwriting on the wall.
    I remember at the end of that season he was becoming unstoppable. When we lost in the NCAA's, Josh was begging for the ball underneath and we didn't make an effort to get it to him. Every trip down the floor you could see the frustration on his face. He wasn't a player that wanted to stand around the perimeter and jack 3's when the shot clock ran down.
    Illian, on the other hand, could handle the perimeter ball rotation and hit the occasional 3. That's why he was starting over Josh to begin with. Herb ball wasn't Josh's game. He knew the inflexibility of Herb's system. He knew he was only starting because of the injury and that come the next season he was headed back to the bench.