All three of last season’s departed Hawaii basketball seniors had aspirations of playing professional basketball.
One of them, guard Brandon Spearman, appears to be close to making that dream a reality.
Following a summer of several workouts which included one with the Indiana Pacers, Spearman awaits word if he will be taken in the NBA D-League draft on Nov. 1. If not, his path is clear — he’s going to Europe.
If he goes the latter route, his options might be limited at this late stage before professional leagues tip off 2014-15 seasons around the globe. But last season’s “Warrior Tip of the Spear” team award winner has remained unbowed.
Spearman spent the last couple weeks in the islands on a vacation of sorts and was a guest coach during the Green & White scrimmage on Oct. 4, when he got one last tech on the Stan Sheriff Court during a mock altercation with the other team.
“Everything is going good. I’m just taking it day by day,” Spearman said recently. “Europe opportunities were there after my senior year. I didn’t take it. I turned down a lot of offers, just to see if I could play in the NBA D-league. The draft is in two weeks, and (I’ll) see if my name get called. If my name don’t get called, then I’ll head over to Europe. So either way in the next two or three weeks, I’ll find something out.”
He mentioned a team in Cologne, Germany, as one option.
“That’s a possibility. If it comes, then it comes. If it comes, then I’ll be ready for it.”
The 6-foot-3 Spearman generally carried the tag of combo guard in his college career, and he operated at small forward/swingman for most of his senior season while averaging 11.3 points and hitting the second-most 3-pointers for UH with 41. But he said he’s trained as a point guard to increase his viability and chances of latching on with a team.
The Chicago native said he’s squared away with an agent, generally the first order of business for would-be pros leaving college.
“I worked out with the Pacers, worked out with Roy Hibbert and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,” Spearman said. “Worked out with a lot of pro players. Just I learned a lot about the visual of a pro life. You know, because it’s business first. Just getting adjusted to that lifestyle. But everything has been going good. I’ve been working out every day. Working on my handles, my point guard skills. It’s coming together. I’m pretty sure I’m gonna shock a lot of people.
“(The workouts) were definitely encouraging. Playing with that type of talent is always encouraging. Watching how these guys which you watch on TV every day, just seeing them go on the floor and how hard they go, how they train to be like a pro, every day on and off the court. So I’ve seen a lot of stuff, on and off the court. I’m just going to take it with me and use it as a student of the game.”
Spearman leaned back courtside at the Stan Sheriff and watched UH guard Garrett Nevels throw down a dunk during practice.
“It feels good (to be back). I actually miss this place,” he said. “I’m just happy to be back and watch the guys practice, and see how well they jell on and off the court. They’re coming together. It’s going to be an exciting year for them.”
He had something in particular to say about Rainbow Warriors newcomer Roderick Bobbitt, who followed in his footsteps from Iowa’s Indian Hills Community College to UH. They were teammates for a season there.
“Oh man, he going to be big for this team,” Spearman said. “He definitely going to be a vocal leader for ’em. Definitely, me and Rod been in a lot of wars together. A lot of battles. One thing about him, he’s never going to quit. A hard worker, and all he want to do is win. Probably in his last two years at Indian Hills, he probably lost like four games, three games. (laughs) So that dude right there, he know how to win. He know how to put the ball in the basket. Who to give it to, who not to give it to. A very smart player, very crafty. Reminds me of Gary Payton. One game he had a triple-double when I was at Indian Hills. People just don’t get triple-doubles. So, that’s one guy I’m not worried about. He’s going to bring a lot to the table and Gib (Arnold) will be happy about him.”
Spearman finished his high school career at Simeon High, where Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose starred. Spearman grew up watching ballers of that caliber, which has fueled his dream since.
The life of a pro is now tantalizingly close.
“I know it’s going to take time. I know it’s going to take hard work. But I’m ready to put the hard work in, like I’ve been doing all my life. My time will come when it comes. I’ll be ready for it.”