Jerome Dyson was pushed and pulled in every direction for photos.
"It wasn't like this last year," he said with a laugh.
Dyson, back at the Greater Hartford Pro Am, is an NBA player now, though he is still not sure where. A proposed trade to the Phoenix Suns is still unofficial.
"The trade hasn't gone through yet," he said. "I haven't been told where to go to take my physical. I don't know much."
What Dyson, who joined the New Orleans Hornets at the end of last season does know, is that he will be somewhere in the league next season. He belongs.
Wednesday night he had 25 points, 10 rebounds and two steals in Simoniz CBC's 125-113 win over Recycle King Naughty Boyz.
In the second game of the night, Jeremy lamb made his pro am debut and scored 34 points to lead State Farms Slamm to a 109-93 win over Harte Nissan. Ryan Gomes had 31 for Harte.
Dyson, who played at UConn, had completed his second season in the Developmental League and was in Tulsa, packing his bags to come home to Connecticut when he got the call on April 9.
"They said, 'how soon can you get to New Orleans?'" he said. "It was a great feeling."
Dyson was there the next night, and played a few minutes here and there. On April 18, as his 10-day contract was about to expire, Dyson started against Memphis.
"The coaches said 'go play,' he said. "It was a strange day – a lot of emotions that day. I got the chance to talk to [former Huskies teammate] Rudy Gay for awhile. It felt like it was do or die. Fortunately, they fouled me a lot and I got to shoot a lot of free throws."
Dyson hit 5-of-7 from the floor and 14-of-16 from the line, scoring 24 points in 27 minutes.
"And I felt like I established myself," he said.
He went on to average 20 minutes a game over nine games, 7.4 points, 2.0 assists per game.
"I bring a lot of energy," Dyson said. "I play defense – I love to play defense. And I know how to score. Coaches like the way I get to the basket."
Dyson, 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds, doesn't have the size to play two-guard regularly in the NBA, except in certain matchups. In theD-League, he worked at the point-guard position, worked to cut down turnovers and improve his passing and decision making.
But progress was coming slow.
"After the first year, I said, 'I've got to make some money, this isn't cutting it," he said.
His agents and his mom encouraged him to continue, and the chance to play for Team USA in the Pan Am games prompted him to return to Tulsa for a second season.
The Hornets, who had the No.1 pick in The NBA Draft and took Anthony Davis, worked out a three-team deal with Minnesota and Phoenix. It was first reported that Dyson was going to Minnesota, then Phoenix. The NBA has been looking into the trade, putting it on hold. The deal, which also would send Brad Miller to Phoenix, three draft picks to Minnesota, Robin Lopez and Hakim Warrick to New Orleans, has been reported in recent days as completed.
But Dyson said Wednesday night he has heard nothing official.
Before suiting up for Simoniz, Dyson held his young son, Zaden, on his lap and addressed a group of area youngsters, taking more than a dozen questions. He told them to focus on academics, something he let slip in high school, and not to let anyone talk them out of their dreams.
On Saturday, he will play with other former UConn stars in coach Jim Calhoun's charity game at Mohegan Sun at 7:30 p.m.
"His impact on me was very big," Dyson said, "he's a great coach. There were a lot of times he could have easily looked the other way, and given up on me, but he never did."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun