Related: Le’Bryan Nash — new father, matured senior — didn’t think he would be at OSU for four years
People are also reading…
It has been three months since Le’Bryan Nash choked back tears in a locker room in Omaha, Nebraska, his moment of coming to grips with the end of a four-year Oklahoma State career.
For those four years, whether he played well or poorly, Nash had a home in Stillwater. He had teammates to lean on, a coach to guide him and his mother’s vocal support four hours away in Dallas.
So consider the past couple of months his awakening to adulthood.
The 6-foot-7 forward is a fringe prospect for Thursday’s NBA Draft after averaging 17.2 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in 2014-15. Once a five-star recruit thought to be a one-and-done at OSU, Nash will be happy just to land with an NBA team this week.
Nash, who turns 23 on June 30, did not receive an invitation to the NBA Draft Combine. Instead, Nash has traveled the country — by himself — to try to prove his usefulness to NBA teams.
Among the teams Nash has attended workouts for: Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns.
It has been a lot of travel. A lot of lonely hotel rooms.
“It’s been a long process,” Nash said in a phone interview last week while he was in Brooklyn. “I’m kind of used to being by myself, staying to myself.
And it’s just growing up.”
The website DraftExpress.com ranks Nash 42nd among college seniors, in between Marist forward Chavaughn Lewis and Ole Miss guard Jarvis Summers. He is not among the site’s top 20 small forwards eligible for this year’s draft.
Still, Nash has used the workouts to change the outside perception.
It started with expanding his range.
After firing 118 3-pointers in his first two seasons at OSU, making just 23.7 percent, Nash focused on shot selection and attempted only 26 3s in his junior and senior years combined and made only two.
Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford challenged Nash to drive more and draw fouls rather than setting for long jumpers.
Now, Nash said NBA coaches told him he needs consistency with his 3-point jumper.
“These coaches call you out and see what you can do,” said Nash, who added that most of the coaches told him they’ve watched him since high school.
Nash tried to use the Portsmouth Invitational in April to his advantage as a shooter, even making a buzzer-beating 3 to win a game.
Ford said Monday he has heard teams are excited about Nash.
“He’s working out for a lot of different teams and has played well, really well,” he said. “The buzz around him is very exciting right now.”
While Nash has been traveling from city to city, hotel room to hotel room, he has taken advice from those at his destinations and those at home.
In Boston, he got to hang out with former OSU teammate Marcus Smart at the hotel and picked his brain on the NBA.
One quote from Smart still sticks with Nash: “Whatever you put into the NBA, that’s what you’re going to get out.”
“That just hit me on the head a lot,” Nash said. “I just want to get better and want to compete for a spot in this league.”
He also talks to his mother, Samatha, every chance he gets.
“She just says, ‘We’re going to make it,’ ” he said.
Nash knows full well he might not be drafted on Thursday. He said he won’t mope if he has to work his way up through the D-League or any other way.
If he were to be drafted, it would mark the first time Oklahoma State has draft picks in consecutive years since Tony Allen and Joey Graham in 2004 and 2005 (Smart and Markel Brown were both drafted last year).
For draft night, Nash plans to finally taken in the comfort of home alongside his mother and his daughter, Kenleigh.
Nash said his baby girl has been his motivation throughout his arduous travel schedule.
“That’s probably the real reason why I’m doing this,” he said. “I know she needs everything she can, and I have the talent to give that to her.”
Mark Cooper 918-581-8387