Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Greg Echenique likely won’t hear his named called by David Stern or Adam Silver during the NBA Draft on June 27, but he’s dreaming of finding a spot in the NBA anyway.
The 6-foot-9, 260-pound center just finished up his career at Creighton after playing at St. Benedict’s Prep for Dan Hurley and then beginning his college career at Rutgers.
“Obviously, I wasn’t invited to [the] Chicago [Pre-Draft Combine] and things like that so I feel like not a lot of teams have seen me,” Echenique, 22, told SNY.tv by phone from Las Vegas, where he is training at the Impact Academy.
“Any deal that I can get is good. I’m just preparing to be the best that I can…to increase my chances of getting drafted or making a team.”
A native of Venezuela, Echenique averaged 9.7 points and 6.6 rebounds last year at Creighton, and notched 13 points and seven rebounds in a win over Cincinnati in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. His season — and career — ended at the hands of Duke in the second round.
While his teammate, Doug McDermott, opted to return to campus and will likely be the Big East Preseason Player of the Year, Echenique is now looking to earn a paycheck.
Echenique worked out for the Boston Celtics this past Saturday and heads to workouts with the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday, the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday and the Washington Wizards on June 3.
His agent, Ben Pensack, said Denver, Houston and Charlotte had also expressed interest.
“There’s starting to be a real buzz out there about him,” Pensack told SNY.tv. “Teams are realizing what he brings to the table defensively is really, really unique.
“In Boston, they told me they think he could make the NBA.”
Echenique competed against likely lottery pick Steven Adams in the Boston workout and said he thought he did well.
“The feedback [from Boston] was really positive,” he said. “They liked the way I played. They thought I need to add to my game that mid-range jumper, make it more consistent.”
“It was my first workout and wasn’t sure what to expect,” he said. “I thought I did well. I played hard.”
In between workouts, he is preparing at Impact, which has a Who’s Who of draft prospects at its facility, including Peyton Siva, Trevor Mbakwe, Travis Releford and Lamont “Momo” Jones, to name a few.
“I heard it was one of the best,” Echenique said. “People are getting ready for the draft. I just want to be in a place where I can compete and am surrounded by a lot of people trying to do the same thing.”
If he doesn’t make an NBA roster, Echenique said he’s prepared to play overseas.
“Nice overseas player,” one NBA GM told SNY.tv.
In the meantime, Pensack said he expects more NBA workouts to come.
“I really do think we’re going to get more,” he said.
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.