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.
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Rutgers’ Corey Sanders talks Adidas Nations, NBA dreams
Corey Sanders had just one NBA workout this spring.
And the feedback he got from the Sacramento Kings in late May was enough to propel him back to Rutgers for his junior season.
“It was a good workout, I got some good feedback, things I need to work on,” the 6-foot-2 Sanders said by phone Sunday from the Adidas Nations event in Houston. “They said they like my quickness, they like my decision-making, it was just up in the air whether they were going to take me or not. I just took that and made my decision to come back. I didn’t want to be out there just hoping that I get drafted and somebody would pick me up or something like that.”
While a Ben Simmons or a Markelle Fultz can go at the top of the NBA Draft without leading his team to the NCAA Tournament, the same doesn’t go for a guy like Sanders, who averaged 12.8 points, 3.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.2 steals during his sophomore campaign but was never projected on any NBA mock drafts. He said the fact that his Rutgers team finished 15-18 overall, 3-15 in the Big Ten didn’t help his stock, either.
“First I gotta lead Rutgers to a .500 season or something, get some good wins,” he said. “You know cause everybody be overlooking me because they think I’m the best person on one of the sorry teams or whatever. My team ain’t doing so good, so it kind of make me” look not so good.
At Adidas Nations, Sanders battled USC guard De’Anthony Melton, Mississippi State’s Lamar Peters and Miami’s Bruce Brown, among others, in front of a slew of NBA scouts.
“It was a great experience with all that talent around me and the coaches that came out,” Sanders said. “There were definitely some good guards.”
He also got a chance to say hello to Houston Rockets star James Harden, who watched high school sensation Zion Williamson.
“Yeah, I seen James,” he said. “He was watching Zion but I said what’s up to him.”
Going forward, Sanders seems a little concerned about a Rutgers roster that lost guard Nigel Williams (Virginia) and big man C.J. Gettys.
“I’m thinking we’ll be about the same as we were last year,” he said. “Hopefully we can win some more games. We lost our top big and one of our best guards so it’s gonna be hard. But next year’s class coming in should be good but we gotta work with what we got this year.”
This year the Scarlet Knights bring in combo guard Geo Baker, junior college point guard Souf Mensah and California big man Myles Johnson.
Looking ahead to 2018, Rutgers made news last week with the additions of guards Mac McClung and Montez Mathis, the latter of whom chose Rutgers over UConn and Virginia Tech.
“Those pickups were great for the fan base because they got something to look forward to,” Sanders said.
In the meantime, he’s focused on improving his game this year and trying to help Rutgers win as many games as possible. That, in turn, could help his own NBA stock in 2018.
“Yeah right, that’s really what it comes down to,” he said. “They looking at me but it’s about the team. Team this, team that so I just gotta do whatever I can to help the team win.”
Photo: USA Today Sports
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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.