Ink first-round center from Duke as Summer League slate approaches
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Mason Plumlee spent last summer working as an intern for Barclays Wealth Management.
"I wasn't the smartest guy there, but I worked really hard and hopefully that showed," the Nets' first-round pick intimated shortly after learning he'd be playing professional basketball in the Barclays Center right here in the heart of Downtown Brooklyn.
The Nets didn't waste any time securing their young big man, signing him to a contract Wednesday morning in advance of the team's Summer League schedule.
"It's a dream come true. It's the only way to put it," said the 7-foot-1 Duke alum, who was taken 22nd overall in last Thursday night's NBA Draft on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues. "I didn't think I would end up in Brooklyn. But now that I'm here, it's just great. I won't have to go anywhere. I'm home. I can just hang around and check out the city."
Actually, Plumlee won't be getting much in the way of hanging around time as college basketball's reigning Pete Newell Big Man of the Year is already slated for full participation in the Summer League, with the opening game scheduled for Sunday in Orlando, Fla.
Nets general manager Billy King, a captain on Duke's 1988 Final Four team under legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski, hinted that he might be looking for a backup point guard before the league's annual player selection sweepstakes.
But when a highly decorated Blue Devil with size, speed and tenacity became available at No. 22, King didn't hesitate to bring one of his own to Brooklyn.
With All-Star Brook Lopez locked into the starting center spot, and capable backup Andray Blatche back for at least another season after re-signing as a free agent on Tuesday, Plumlee knows he'll have to work hard to play his way into the rotation come November.
However, hard work and determination are two virtues he picked up in abundance during his four-year stint under Krzyzewski.
"We’ll figure out [what my role will be] come camp, but I’m a basketball player," Plumlee said. "And if you put me on the floor, I’ll play my game and we’ll go from there.”
While he admits he's lacking in outside scoring touch, Plumlee is a grinder and strong finisher along the interior.
He averaged 17.1 points, 10.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game while shooting nearly 60 percent from the floor during his senior campaign in Durham, N.C., earning Second Team AP All-American honors.
With his brother Miles already playing for the Indiana Pacers, Plumlee is eager to bolster his family's NBA legacy with the Nets.
“I have worked hard to get to this spot and it is rewarding to be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft. I am eager to meet my new teammates and coaches," the 23-year-old pivotman gushed. "Duke and Coach K were instrumental in helping me get to this position. Many of the lessons I learned in Durham will help me continue to grow and develop during the next phase of my basketball journey."
On Wednesday, Plumlee began working out with fellow Nets Tyshawn Taylor and Tornike Shengalia in advance of the Summer League action. He also got his first taste of playing under the Nets' brand new coaching regime, spearheaded by future Hall of Fame point guard Jason Kidd.
"I loved watching him play," Plumlee said of his new coach. "I would have loved to play with him, but now I get to play for him."
Read next week's Eagle sports pages or check back here for updates on Plumlee's progress in the Nets' Summer League participation.