The 'Long' wait is nearly over, 2011 NBA Draft airs tonight

Outgoing men's basketball player Cam Long speaks to reporters outside a Wizards workout Wednesday. (John Powell)

ANALYSIS | Cam Long has already been living “an NBA lifestyle,” as Washington Wizards General Manager Ernie Grunfeld put it. He has worked out with five NBA teams and traveled overnight to make it from one workout to the next, culminating with a hometown workout for the Wizards’ brass.

Long, an outgoing George Mason University men's basketball player, has been known as a team leader during his last three years with the Patriots. But in a one- to two-hour NBA workout, it is the intangibles that are hard to show. Often, those who come to the workouts have the one stat that jumps off the paper, be it Hofstra’s Charles Jenkins’ scoring or the high rebounding and scoring marks of James Madison’s Denzel Bowles.

“The NBA is the highest level basically. Coaches see things that you would be surprised that they could see,” Long said on Wednesday.

Jenkins, Bowles and Long all accepted workouts with the Wizards to show off their talents to the organization. But it takes more for them to stand out from the other players from the major NCAA conferences.

“Even the world is starting to notice that, after what happened in the NCAA tournament this year, a lot of mid-major schools are doing big-time things,” Long said. “The only thing is I think that CAA schools are more of a team-based team than individuals.”

That may make Long and others in his shoes more valuable to a team, however. While some NBA teams may be more of a collection of individuals, a player who can hold his own and bond with his teammates has something to add beyond the stats.

“The type of person I am – I can bond with anybody,” Long said. “ [It's] the same progress I made from high school to college – what I did is I learned the game. I let the people that were already there continue to do their thing while I played my role. My role was to come in and learn.”

And he has the necessary support of those around him, from his old teammates to his family.

“My family is always supportive,” he said. “It was more of ‘What do you really want to do?’ It was more of a life plan.”

A series of stories have been told about the support Long received from his brother while in high school. Fans saw the impact when his family walked onto the court with him on senior night. He made it clear that he wants to play in the NBA, and his family has been there for him.

The 2011 NBA Draft begins tonight at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN live from Newark, N.J. After trying out for the Golden State Warriors, Charlotte Bobcats, Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves and Washington Wizards, he only has to wait a few more hours to learn his fate.

“I think I’m not going to pay attention really,” said Long about the pre-draft media hysteria.

He is planning on going back home to Palm Bay, Fla. to wait for a phone call. He hopes it will be a positive one. Even if he does not get that phone call tonight, there is the possibility of a free agency tryout following the draft with an NBA team who still has not met all of their needs.


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