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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Bayless focused on new business world

    Bayless focused on new business world

    NEW YORK – Jerryd Bayless always handled basketball at Arizona with an all-business approach, focused on ultimately reaching the professional level.

    Formal wear became Bayless’ signature pregame attire during his one-year tenure in Tucson, consistently dressing to maintain the professional affect – even off the court as a college athlete with a dream.

    But although Bayless captured that goals on June 26 – he was selected as a lottery pick in the guard-heavy 2008 NBA Draft – the former one-and-done UA guard still has unfinished business.

    “”When (Bayless) steps on the court, it’s all about business,”” said UA forward Jordan Hill. “”I know he’s ready for the NBA. He’s gonna go out there and handle his business.””

    The Phoenix native landed in Portland after originally earning the 11th overall selection in Madison Square Garden. Bayless, sent to Portland as part of a five-player deal, spent the months prior as a unanimous top-five pick in mock drafts.

    Not until days before the draft did speculation begin around his slipping stock, potentially dropping outside the top-10 to compensate the rising interest in former UCLA guard Russell Westbrook, who was selected fourth overall.

    With his drop to 11th, Bayless became re-motivated to prove wrong those 10 teams that passed him up.

    “”I think there’s a lot that a NBA player has to go through and I know this year what could happen and I know it’s going to happen sometime in my NBA career,”” Bayless said at his press conference prior to being traded. “”I think I’ll just be able to look forward to it and get over it pretty quick.

    “”I know I have something to prove,”” Bayless added. “”Obviously there are some better prospects and it’s understandable; and hopefully I work as hard as I can and play well against the rest of those teams.””

    Said Westbrook of his own rising stock: “”It feels great. I worked so hard to get to the best possible positions I could possibly be in and this is one of the best possible positions there is, and now I have to keep working to be at the top.””

    A record 11 freshmen were selected in the first round – three coming from top pick Derrick Rose, second pick Michael Beasley and third pick O.J. Mayo. Five of the first seven picks were freshmen, also a NBA Draft first.

    Bayless’ extra motivation will set his professional basketball career in a positive direction, ex-Wildcat Andre Iguodala told the Wildcat at Channing Frye’s celebrity golf tournament in Phoenix.

    “”One thing you don’t want to do is settle once you get there. You don’t want to say, ‘I’ve made it and I’m done working,'”” said Iguodala, a current NBA free agent and the ninth overall pick in 2004. “”As long as he continues to work hard and wants to improve each and everyday, he’ll be fine.””

    Bayless gave Arizona its 29th drafted player since 1989 – the best in the country over Duke (28), UCLA (26) and Kansas (22). Bayless joins ex-Wildcat Frye in Portland, a youthful team that will debut its 2007 top draft pick Greg Oden next season and return its 2007 Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy.

    While ties between Bayless and Frye date back to St. Mary’s Prep School in Phoenix, the high school they both attended, Frye said rookies must still pay their dues in the NBA.

    Said Frye, with a smile, when asked if he’ll take Bayless under his wing: “”No man, he’s a rookie. No, I’m always going to stick up for him but he has to go through his own bumps and bruises. But he’s a good guy and he’s going to work hard.

    “”We’re going to try to be the gym rats,”” added Frye, the eighth overall pick in 2005. “”You know it’s always good competition when you have guys try to get to the gym more than you.””

    Ex-Wildcat Richard Jefferson, who was traded from New Jersey to Milwaukee on draft day, downplayed the significance between draft-day climbs or slides.

    Jefferson, drafted 13th overall in 2001, called Bayless before the draft to wish him luck.

    “”I told him regardless of what happens, it doesn’t matter if he goes No. 5 or 15,”” Jefferson said at the golf tournament. “”In five years, it won’t matter because it’ll be about his career. Having Jerryd Bayless get drafted where he did is only going to add to the great reputation of the school.””

    Already being with two NBA teams in less than two hours, change is something Bayless overcame during his one-year tenure in Tucson, evident through leading the Wildcats with 19.7 points per game despite UA head coach Lute Olson’s dramatic season-long leave of absence.

    “”Buckets and buckets of scoring,”” said former Stanford Cardinal and 10th overall pick in the 2008 Draft Brook Lopez of what Bayless brings to his team. “”A drive, just determined to win. He was a natural leader for (Arizona). I think he’ll go really far in the NBA.””

    – Lance Madden contributed reporting

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