Will Conroy from Washington takes time out of his schedule to tell about one of the first of many NBA workouts that will be conducted over the next two months. Conroy was in Houston on Monday, working out with the Rockets with Aaron Miles, Andre Owens and Corey Santee. The workout is broken down for us piece by piece, with Conroy giving us an in-depth and exclusive, but light-hearted look at what it's like to be a former walk-on fighting for a spot in the NBA.
Jonathan Givony: Hey Will. How's it going?
Will Conroy: Good man. How are you?
Jonathan Givony: Not too bad. So who ended up showing for that workout yesterday in Houston?
Will Conroy: It was me, Aaron Miles, Andre Owens (Houston), and Corey Santee (TCU).
Jonathan Givony: So Fili Rivera and Daniel Ewing didn't make it? You have any idea why?
Will Conroy: I'm not exactly sure, but I think that Filiberto had something to do with school. Ewing I'm not really sure about.
Jonathan Givony: OK cool. So how do they do a workout with four PG's? Is it mostly drills?
Will Conroy: Yeah, they put us two on each end and we did some shooting. Range shots, NBA threes. A lot of things coming off the ball, and we did some on the ball things, going towards the basket. Then we did some more shooting. Pulling up, shooting the college three, the NBA three. Then we did 3/4 court one on one, you know, 10 seconds to score and stuff. Then that was fine, we did some conditioning things, and we finished it up.
Jonathan Givony: How long was the whole workout?
Will Conroy: Probably about an hour and a half.
Jonathan Givony: That's pretty long.
Will Conroy: Maybe a little shorter, I wasn't really paying attention to the time.
Jonathan Givony: So what is a really draining workout physically?
Will Conroy: It was a tough workout, but everybody fought through it.
Jonathan Givony: Did you guys do a lot of pick and roll? I was at a workout last year, and it seemed they did an awful lot of that.
Will Conroy: Yeah we did focus in a lot on that. We probably spent about 35 minutes on the pick and roll.
Jonathan Givony: On both ends of the pick and roll?
Will Conroy: No. We had a few trainers out there, they would set the pick and one of their coaches would give us dummy defense, coming off shoulder to shoulder, stuff like that.
Jonathan Givony: Did any of the stuff remind you of stuff you guys would do at practice at UW?
Will Conroy: Yeah, well a lot of it reminded me of that stuff, because that's what we do in our individuals at school. I think my coach really had me prepared well for that stuff. That's the kind of stuff we do a lot of in individual practices. I've been getting prepared for that since the Spring.
Jonathan Givony: Its kind of hard to say this since there are so many differences, but I think that UW more than almost any other school runs something that reminds me of an NBA system, minus the bigs of course. Would you agree with that?
Will Conroy: Yeah I would agree, but Arizona too. We do what you would call a pro-style offense, where we push the ball but also in the half-court set you always have the option of setting two or three different players up for a good shot. There's more options.
Jonathan Givony: So how did you feel you did personally in the workout?
Will Conroy: Well, its kind of tough to say. I'm sure everyone would say here that they did well. So, I'll keep it cool for you, I think I did well, I did a pretty good job on defense, there's always room for me to improve, but I think I did well.
Jonathan Givony: So Will, is it tough? You know, to show off your PG skills in drills like that? I'm not sure how that really translates
Will Conroy: I think its tough to really judge a player off of that, the stuff they put you through. I mean, you bring in a PG, usually a point guard is better with the team. Setting up the wing on one end, then pushing it down low to the bigs. That type of thing. Its tough, but they pretty much know, they've watched us play a few times, so they know what I can do for my team.
Jonathan Givony: It seems like one of your biggest strengths as a player, and maybe the reason you might end up on a team in October is your leadership skills. So how can you show off your leadership skills in a workout like that?
Will Conroy: Well you can'tbut I just try to do things like encourage the guy in front of me to make his shots even in a workout, clap those guys up, stuff like that.
Jonathan Givony: Just trying to get inside your head here, but did you ever get the feeling like you don't want to try and overdo things a little too much. Maybe come off a bit fake?
Will Conroy: Oh man, its just so natural to me, I just do it without thinking. At U-Dub we also have to cheer our guys on, that's just how we do it.
Jonathan Givony: Was there any 2 on 2 stuff, some kind of real basketball to show off what you can do in somewhat of a team setting?
Will Conroy: Nope. Nothing like that.
Jonathan Givony: Wow. How do you think you shot the ball in the shooting drills? Seems like that's maybe something that's important for you to show these guys.
Will Conroy: Yeah, I would say, in the pick and roll stuff I shot the ball well. In the regular threes, when we had to swing the ball from Tracy to Yao to me, I didn't shoot that well just shooting the NBA threes. But later when we were doing shooting while you're on the move, college three on the move, I thought I shot the ball well doing that. With the mid-range stuff I did well, but the NBA three, I didn't too well, I shot like 4/10. We only shot ten of them.
Jonathan Givony: Did you just say Tracy and Yao? Where those guys there too?
Will Conroy: No no no. The coach was just introducing drills, like the ball is being kicked from Yao out to Tracy and then to you.
Jonathan Givony: (laughs) Oh ok. I just thought T-Mac passing the ball, fat chance of that happeningSo was it like a real workout afterwards or before, where they do interviews?
Will Conroy: Yeah, we did interviews before the workout. I was the last one to go.
Jonathan Givony: How long did that take?
Will Conroy: It was maybe like 15 minutes.
Jonathan Givony: What was the feeling you got there? What do you think they were trying to dig into there?
Will Conroy: It was more of a basketball IQ type thing and more just seeing what type of person you are by the way you answer questions.
Jonathan Givony: Are they more personal questions? Or basketball type stuff? Or a mix of the two?
Will Conroy: Few basketball, few personal. Pretty good mix of both.
Jonathan Givony: Did they put you through those psychological tests that they have people do sometimes?
Will Conroy: I'm not sure if they did or not, but I don't think so.
Jonathan Givony: I think that's like they put you in a room and they make you fill out this questionnaire with all these weird questions. I think its multiple choice and based off that they kind of analyze your personality or something.
Will Conroy: No, they didn't do that. (laughs)
Jonathan Givony: Don't worry Will. You'll get that. They'll find out the truth. (laughs)
Will Conroy: Yeah I heard about it, I heard about it. I can't wait.
Jonathan Givony: Did Nate [Robinson] tell you about it?
Will Conroy: Naa, Jamal did.
Jonathan Givony: JamalCrawford?
Will Conroy: Yeah. He's my best friend. We went to high school together for two years.
Jonathan Givony: Cool. So what's next for you? You got any more workouts coming up?
Will Conroy: I'm not sure about workouts, but I know the Cleveland Cavaliers want me to come in for an interview.
Jonathan Givony: Nice man. So what was your impression of Aaron Miles at that workout? Don't want to put you in a tough spot or anything, it would be kind of interesting to hear your thoughts on him.
Will Conroy: No, I really like Aaron actually. He's quick, he's tough, real similar to me as far as his basketball IQ. It's always good to focus on someone like Aaron, who sees the game the way you see the game. I think he sees the game the same way.
Jonathan Givony: Yeah, I like him too. Just talking to him at Portsmouth, you can see that's got a real good head on his shoulders. Smart dude, kind of in a boyscout way but I can see some team taking a chance on him because you know exactly what you are going to get.
Will Conroy: Exactly man.
Jonathan Givony: So I heard that the alternate letters are starting to go out for Chicago [the pre-draft camp] already. I'm not sure how much they actually mean, I need to look into that since a lot of kids get them, but have you gotten one? They tell you anything about when the final decision will be made?
Will Conroy: No, I don't really know. My coach just called me and told me that I got one. So I'm not sure about the whole Chicago deal yet. You know, whatever comes I'll just be glad to go along with that. I don't play the game for all that, I play the game because I love basketball. Whatever comes, I'm going. Whoever wants to see me, I'll be there. Wherever I need to be, I'll be there.
Jonathan Givony: That's definitely the right way to look at it Will. It's kind of out of your control at this point.
Will Conroy: I know. I finally see my name on one or two other NBA draft lists, mock drafts except yours. I think they are all following your lead huh?
Jonathan Givony: Of course Will. You know how it works. We set the tone in this business. (laughs).
I'm just kidding man. You definitely earned it, even though it doesn't mean much at this point.
So what's the plan now Will? You working out with your teammates? How you getting ready?
Will Conroy: Yeah, I played some four on four today with some teammates. We'll all work out together, me and Tre [Simmons], Nate [Robinson], all those dudes. That's probably what we're going to do. We're planning on leaving on Thursday, down the way a little, an hour or two away and go work out there.
Jonathan Givony: Do you guys have a trainer or something like that?
Will Conroy: Yeah we have a guy that comes in, or we go to where he's at. But what have YOU been hearing man?
Jonathan Givony: Come on Will, nobody wants to talk to me. You know that. Naa, I been busy as hell lately with school. Just finishing up my finals here, thank god. A lot of the NBA guys have been a little busy with the playoffs coming up. A bunch of NBA scouts are in Europe now from what I hear, checking out the guys there. It's a little bit of a downtime right now, everyone's getting ready for the next two months which are going to be crazy. But you're on the radar because of Portsmouth from everything I've heard, you should be right there in the mix, right where you want to be at if you're going to make a move. It's still way too early to make mock drafts and stuff like that. Whatever people think today is going to change tomorrow, we need to see who's in and who's out, who's serious and who's not, who can play and who can't. But man, its gonna heat up real quick. There's going to be bullshit flying from wall to wall, its going to be fun. You're just going to have to go and work your ass off, show them that you can play. Be serious in your interviews because it's just like any other job interview, you're auditioning for a great job and there are a million other candidates who want it just as much. But you're in good shape Will. Take it in stride and just try to have fun.
Will Conroy: The thing about these workouts is that you have to be put in the right situation to show that you CAN play, because I don't really think that these drills, that kind of stuff, I don't really know if it can show how good a player really is.
Jonathan Givony: That's kind of what I'm thinking too. I went to workouts last year and all I was thinking was man, I'm glad I got to see this guy play in real games. I learn 10 times more off a game than these workouts. Maybe for a power forward or a center, he can show off that he can do more than just shoot inside the paint, you can see what kind of shape they are in, I think they can look more at his footwork, just how athletic he is, that type of thing. But for a PG? That's got to be tough. That seems like the hardest position to draft if you look at where a lot of NBA PG's in the league right now got drafted.
Will Conroy: Exactly.
Jonathan Givony: Did they measure how fast you ran from one end of the court to another? Combine type stuff?
Will Conroy: See, that was the place where I thought I would be able to separate myself. Doing some things where you show how fast you can get to the rim and get up there. But they made us lay all the balls in, so I wasn't able to show that I can dunk those balls, and easy too. Show my athleticism, and I couldn't even do that.
Jonathan Givony: I think that this was one of the first workouts out there, so I dunno, they might have to invite you back? I have no clue, did they talk to you about that?
Will Conroy: Yeah, they said they'll call, they'll stay in touch, tell us if we'll get invited back. Keith Langford, Luther Head and a couple other guys came in the next day
Jonathan Givony: Yeah I saw that on Hoopshype, they said that Langford is going to be in Houston the day after you. But I think he's from Houston or somewhere in Texas like that.
Will Conroy: Oh, is he?
Jonathan Givony: I think soI know he signed with an agent from Houston, McNeil something, he's Kenny Thomas' agent too.
Will Conroy: Daniel Ewing is from Houston. I was wondering why he didn't show up.
Jonathan Givony: They probably still have school at Duke or something. It's a tough school and all from what I hear. I know I gotta helluva lot of school stuff, no one's inviting me to any workouts, but I'd probably have to turn them down too. (laughs)
Will Conroy: Yeah, but you only miss one day.
Jonathan Givony: Yeah, I guess if I had a couple hundred thous on the line I might reconsider too.
Will Conroy: Fili is from Texas too. I came all the way from Washington man.
Jonathan Givony: You know how it is Will. There's a lot of politics behind the scenes too. Maybe his agent is like oh shit, Will Conroy is going to be there. We can't send him there! (laughs)
Will Conroy: (laughs) Little did they know we didn't do any competition.
Jonathan Givony: You'll get your shot. Every dog his day. Like we say back home, Kul kalb biji yomo.
Will Conroy: That's why I'm thinking that Chicago would be a great place to showcase my skills.
Jonathan Givony: Hey, if you can get 16 assists in one game like you did at Portsmouthyou can knock some socks off.
Will Conroy: Oh no! That would be sweet, right?
Jonathan Givony: Your boy Nate [Robinson] was awesome last year in Chicago. Totally a different type of player, more of a scoring type, but man it was hard not to get excited with the way he played there. I forgot I was at a basketball camp there for a second, but luckily I wasn't the only one who was having a good time watching him do his thing.
Will Conroy: Yeah he's really got a free will out there on the court. He's good.
Jonathan Givony: So what's it like being out there with him in practice? I can only imagine some of the stuff he pulls off.
Will Conroy: Oh man, he's a freak You would be shocked at some of the things that he can pull off, that little dude. I've seen him for 8-9 years now, and he still amazes me sometimes with the things he can do.
Jonathan Givony: He's really got some real personality out there when he's playing, in Chicago it was like the whole game revolved around him, you just can't take your eyes off him. Everyone around me was like what is this kid going to do next?
Will Conroy: He keeps everyones eyes on him. He's fun man.
Jonathan Givony: I gotta ask you a tough question before my tape runs out here. What's going to happen with Martell Webster? What's the latest out of UW?
Will Conroy: I'm not sure to be honest. I keep hearing that his NBA draft stock keeps going up, but I'm not sure what kind of decision he'll make. I'm sure that he'll take his time, and he'll think it out, because he's a smart kid. He'll probably make the right decision.
Jonathan Givony: Have you had a chance to watch any of these high school all-star games? Does that even interest you?
Will Conroy: I actually haven't had a chance to watch them. You know, I've got my own grind going on here, just trying to make it. (laughs)
Jonathan Givony: Yeah, you probably have bigger things to worry about right now than UW's incoming recruiting class.
Will Conroy: (laughs) Yeah I can't really worry about the lottery kids right now.
Jonathan Givony: Are people getting a little bit worried over at UW? Coach Romar and all those dudes?
Will Conroy: Well I'm sure everyone is on pins and needles, you have a kid with those type of accolades, you want him to at least come and join your program for one or two years. People are on pins and needles out here, but he's got to make the decision that's right for him.
Jonathan Givony: Yeah, I hear you. My tape has just a little bit left on it. I'm sure everyone is going to enjoy this conversation as much as I did. Anything else you want to talk about?
Will Conroy: (laughs) I always like to get feedback from people. I went to your website a few days ago and I saw that you guys had a poll asking about the Portsmouth guys and which one will get drafted the highest, and I saw I only had 3% that picked me (laughs)
Jonathan Givony: (laughs) You're killing me Will. So what would you say to those 97% of the voters decided to pick someone else?
Will Conroy: Everyone just needs to watch me play. That's it.
Jonathan Givony: Yeah, I guess they are going more off what they saw from the season. If I wasn't at Portsmouth I would have a hard time believing it too. Like I told you even before you had that big game you're raising some eyebrows. That came as a big surprise to me. I was not expecting that. That just goes to show you that you can't judge a guy who plays in a system with basically 3 guards and multiple ball-handlers around him where the #1 goal is to set up low percentage three point shots. It's a different story when you're in a less controlled environment and you have some big guys that you can get an assist off every time by putting the ball where they need to get it for the easy basket. It changes the game. But 3%, damnthat's insulting huh? (laughs)
Will Conroy: I can't really complain. I see Jason Maxiell moving up every single draft board now, except one where for some reason he went down, I'm real happy about that.
Jonathan Givony: Yeah, he solidified himself big time with the way he played. I don't know why anyone would move him down after that. I'm sure NBA teams didn't. We were basically the only site that was there, so go figure. Someone's gonna take Maxiell for their team next year. He's just too good and nasty not to. I don't really care what his size is, there are plenty of guys like him in the league who don't really have a true position, but they come off the bench and they give their team a boost with their energy and they help win games. He's going to be a role player for someone. That's one of the few things that I'm fairly confident about in the 2nd round. The dude can play, and that's really all that matters.
Will Conroy: And that kind of makes me feel good. That I was able to help him bring out his ability at a camp like that, even if it was just a little bit as a PG, that makes me feel good.
Jonathan Givony: That's right Will. That's what great PG's do! They make everyone around them better.
But man, this tape is done, over, caput. I want to say thanks. Keep us posted on these workouts and best of luck.
Will Conroy: Yep, I'm just going to go take care of business now.
Jonathan Givony: There ya go Will. See ya.