Larry Drew II Enjoys Journey of First Professional Season in Sioux Falls
Playing basketball has been a staple for Larry Drew II for the better part of 20 years. Considering the Sioux Falls Skyforce point guard is only 23 years old, a sizable chunk of time has spent learning and experiencing the ups and downs of what the game offers.
Even carrying the name Larry Drew raises expectations as the son of a former NBA player and current coach of the Milwaukee Bucks. Drew II is carving out his own path which has led him from high school in California to an NCAA Championship in North Carolina and back to UCLA to finish his college career. When asked about the similarities of the game at different levels, Drew relishes basketball’s simplicity. “It’s still one ball, two baskets and ten guys out there on the court competing against each other.” As far as a difference from amateur to pro, Drew feels that many college players who want to play in the NBA go all out to get noticed. “Guys are trying to get to that next level. They play with a sense of urgency and try to assert themselves a little more. The mindset becomes you’ve got to go as hard as you can go to get looked at.”
During his senior college season, Drew set the single season record for assists at UCLA and helped get the Bruins to the NCAA tournament. After graduation, difficulty ensued with a serious injury that prevented further chances to showcase his talents. “I was at the New Jersey combine and tore my quad. I was out for two months.” That meant no individual workouts before the draft, no summer league and no exposure during a time when scouts are evaluating players. Fortunately, Drew had impressed the Miami Heat enough to earn a ticket to the 2013 preseason camp to get invaluable experience. “It’s the defending World Champions. I was going to play in the summer league with Miami and I wanted to be part of that culture. You get to go down there and see guys like LeBron, D-Wade, Ray Allen and Chris Bosh. It’s cool playing with guys who are the best at what they do. Still I always try to stay humble and not get too high or too low. I’m always trying to learn something new and taking in every experience.”
Now that Drew is making a living by playing basketball, he is still learning and picking up tips where ever he can get them. For example, during his time in Miami, Drew said future Hall-of Famer Ray Allen was abundantly clear about treating the body properly. “He preaches the importance of maintaining your body and keeping your body healthy. ‘Eat breakfast every day. Drink lots of water. Get your rest at night.’ As many seasons as he’s played in the league at that intensity, he’s a guy who would know.” Still despite the advice from the NBA sharpshooter, Drew has been hampered by a couple of leg injuries that sidelined him for two stretches that kept him out of nine games total. On the subject of production during those 15 games, the ledger shows 7.6 points, 6.9 assists, 2.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals in almost 31 minutes per game.
The NBA Development League is a place to groom basketball talent. Though as a professional, you also learn some life lessons. “A big thing honestly now is time management. Even though we’re in the gym three to four hours a day, you still need to learn what to do in your off time.” Plus getting that call to the NBA would make all the hours spent on the court, in rehab and traveling worth the journey. “It would mean the world. I’ve been playing organized basketball since I was three or four years old. I’ve always had a dream of getting into the NBA. My father being who he is, I got to see a lot of that growing up. That’s something I want to be a part of.”