Sunday, June 21, 2009

Good luck Ahmad, will miss you ;-(

Nivins doing the NBA tryout sojourn

It’s safe to call Ahmad Nivins a traveling man.In fact, the Jersey City native has been bopping all across the country so much that he’s spending more time in airports than any place else. Such is the life when you’re a prospective draft pick in the upcoming NBA draft.

Nivins, who was the Atlantic-10 Player of the Year last season for St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, has been attending tryouts with practically every NBA team imaginable before the draft Thursday night in New York.When Nivins was reached via cell phone, he was sitting in the airport in Minneapolis after having a workout session with the Timberwolves. He was boarding a plane for Sacramento for a session with the Kings. A visit with the Knicks was also in the works.“So far, I’ve been to Boston, Indiana, Minnesota, Charlotte, Milwaukee, Detroit, Portland, San Antonio, the L.A. Lakers and Cleveland,” Nivins said. “It has been crazy. But at this point, I’m trying to earn a living in basketball.”

Still, if Nivins is making all these trips to all these different teams, he must be in demand. The latest ESPN rankings have the former St. Anthony standout as the No. 51-ranked prospect going into the draft. He’s 6-foot-9 and has developed a nice outside shooting touch, proving that he can play both with his back to the basket and facing the basket.

If there weren’t all these trips, then it would mean that no one was interested.“I think it is a good sign,” Nivins said. “I’ve received good feedback from the personnel directors, vice-presidents of personnel, and general managers. Everyone has told me that they liked what I did in the workouts. People liked what I was able to do in college, but I have to do the same in these workouts. I have to show what I can do. That’s the approach I have to take. But it’s a good feeling to have that kind of interest in me. It means a lot.”

Last Saturday, Nivins worked out close to home, making an official visit to the New Jersey Nets’ training facility in East Rutherford.“It was different than the rest,” Nivins said. “Throughout this whole process, I’ve been traveling some place. I check into the hotel and have a routine. This was a little different, because I came from home. Instead of an alarm clock to wake me, I had my parents. It was a little change of gears.”

Nivins said that he felt good about his workout with the Nets. He thought he gave a decent account of himself.“The accolades I received in college are great, but they have nothing to do with my pro career,” Nivins said. “I just have to keep being the most energetic player, the most vocal, and keep showing what I can do. I think the improvement in my shooting range helps and adds to my versatility. I think teams know what I can do with my back to the basket, but now I’m showing that I can step out and make that shot. But I still have to be the most energetic guy.”Nivins said that he hasn’t been able to talk to any of the former St. Anthony players, like former first round selections Rodrick Rhodes and Roshown McLeod, about their experiences in the NBA Draft, but he has been in constant contact with St. Anthony legendary coach Bob Hurley.

“I have been talking to Coach Hurley once a week at least since this all started in May,” Nivins said. “He really helped me and told me what to expect. I’ve also been in touch with Melissa Hurley [the coach’s daughter], while Coach Hurley has been away in Europe and she’s been asking me for reports.”

It also helps that Nivins’ college coach, Phil Martelli, has had players like the Magic’s Jameer Nelson and the Cavaliers’ Delonte West endure the draft procedure in recent years.“Coach Martelli has been very helpful and I can approach him about anything,” Nivins said. “He lets me know how proud he is of me and keeps me working hard. It helps having someone like Coach Martelli in your corner. He knows what I’m going through.”

So the traveling man just collects another boarding pass, puts another refrigerator magnet in his carry-on bag and heads to another destination. It will soon be over, because the NBA Draft is rapidly approaching.Needless to say, that skinny gangly kid who began his career as a string bean at County Prep seven years ago before transferring to St. Anthony is a distant memory.“I definitely didn’t see this coming,” Nivins said. “But I’m glad it did.”

Next Thursday, Nivins’ traveling will be over. He’ll be in his Jersey City home, watching the NBA Draft with the millions of others around the world.“Hopefully, I’ll be hearing some good news,” Nivins said…

Picture courtesy of Greg Carroccio of Sideline Photos, LLC

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