By Lucas Mayer and Jeremiah Johnson
5:50 PM EDT, June 15, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS - It was a busy offseason day for the Indiana Pacers. While fans had the opportunity to meet, receive autographs, and take pictures with George Hill and Dahntay Jones at Circle Center Mall, coach Frank Vogel and his staff conducted day three of pre-draft workouts at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The importance of the workouts in the NBA cannot be overstated. It was not so long ago that the Pacers determined Paul George could be an absolute steal in the draft. While many fans will rely on highlight reels and headlines to determine value for a player, coaches and scouts place tremendous value on actually putting the youngsters through a practice.
The Pacers have already completed two workouts and got right back to business on Friday. They brought in guards Evan Fournier (France), Ashton Gibbs (Pitt), Tony Wroten (Washington), and John Jenkins (Vanderbilt). The two big men present were Josh Owens (Stanford) and Travis Hyman (Bowie State).
Vogel worked the players hard and continually emphasized their skills were obvious, but much more was needed to succeed in the NBA. He expressed the need for a high basketball IQ by being able to read and break down defenses as well as playing proper and aggressive defense.
"It's a great coaching staff, they pushed us" said Gibbs. "I can really understand why [the Pacers] made it far in the playoffs."
While it is important for players to show their all around skill set, the majority of the NBA hopefuls realized they must focus on what they do best. NBA coaches are often focusing on the one skill a player is known for to see if they can truly transition using that skill among the best in the World. After all, it would make little sense for a big man known for rebounding to try and impress Vogel with his outside shooting.
"You have to stick to what you know you can do," said Owens. "If you focus on other things it doesn't make you look as good. I'm just trying to [show] the athleticism, the energy, show I'm in pretty good shape, and the defensive rebounding."
One of the more intriguing prospects at the workout was 19 year old Evan Fournier of France. Some expect the 6' 7" 204 pound combo shooting guard/small forward to be the next European success in the NBA. He displayed a solid shot and obvious athleticism. Fournier also provided the most interesting response by far in the interview sessions. When asked why he decided to first become a basketball player and what attracted him to the sport the Frenchman did not hesitate. "SpaceJam," he said referring to the well known film starring Michael Jordan, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. "I watched SpaceJam and I was eight, so I said why not play basketball," recalled Fournier.
Not far away at Circle Center Mall a long line of fans anxiously awaited the arrival of the George Hill and Dahntay Jones, who wanted to take the opportunity to thank fans for their support. The event is apart of the on going fan appreciation tour of events being held by the Pacers. The "Pacers prize wheel" gave everyone that showed up the opportunity to walk away with a free gift in addition to an autograph and picture with the players.
"Like I told my teammates, fans come with success," said Hill. "You have to tip your hat to this team...and for the organization getting us out into the community to know fans better."
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