NBA DRAFT DIARY | SFA’s Thomas Walkup hoping to upset draft projections


After the thrilling seven-game NBA championship concluded Sunday night, the eyes of basketball fans everywhere turned to Thursday’s NBA Draft. Former Stephen F. Austin star Thomas Walkup, who led the Lumberjacks to an NCAA Tournament upset against West Virginia, will be among those watching and waiting. He spoke to ASN basketball analyst Monica McNutt:

Workouts have been going great. It’s a busy time but I’m getting to do what I love so I couldn’t ask for more. I played well at both of the workouts so it was a good week (last week).

What we were able to do as a team at SFA and in the NCAA Tournament was pretty incredible and I think without that success at school at SFA I don’t think I would be in this position at all.

It’s hard to look back and think about the loss to Notre Dame because we were right there and we were so close, but I definitely think the more you win in the tournament as a team the better every single person on the team looks.  I definitely think that would’ve put me in a better position. Right now I’m predicted to be undrafted and I think that just adds to that chip on my shoulder but honestly I love it. I love being underestimated and being the underdog. I like surprising people; sometimes a guy might not know much about me and then we really get after it in a workout, I like playing like that.

Workouts have been going really well. I don’t know about giving myself a grade, there’s a lot of different workouts and you only have an hour, to an hour and a half to show what you’ve got. Some have gone better than others, I’d grade some really well but I’ve had my bad ones and some right there in the middle. I know whenever we start playing three on three or one on one, I’m thinking “Yes, here we go, this is my chance to really get after it.”

I love to compete and I love to get after guys, it’s in those competing actions where I really shine.  I think for the most part they’ve gone pretty good, and I think I’ve definitely upped my stock throughout this process and I’ve learned a ton too.

For guys to go through this process and not pick up on things or learn things from the teams that they’re with and the people that they’re around would be not very smart so I’m constantly learning and doing other things and not just playing. You get to see how everyday guys are in the NBA, how coaches handle players in the league compared to in college, seeing the facilities, seeing how other guys handle themselves around coaches and higher up personnel, watching that you know it’s different because it’s a job now.

It’s not just about your skills it’s also about you as a person. I think that’s the easy part for me, who I am; I don’t have to be anybody different or try to have a good personality it’s just me. It’s just who I am and I’m just being myself and playing as hard as I can on the court, so that part has been an easy transition.

No matter what schools guys come from, these are dudes just like me. It doesn’t matter where they come from, or where they’re at, they’re in the same position fighting for a spot, really fighting for their life in this business, just like me.

Coach (Brad) Underwood has been very supportive as well as the rest of the coaching staff at SFAS. I talk to them before and after every workout discussing who’s going to be there, this and that, and it’s really nice having people like that behind you. Obviously I’m not playing for Coach Underwood and those guys anymore but they’re still wanting to know how I’m doing in workouts.  Wanting to know if I had a better one the last time or whatever it might be and I think that’s really neat and really special that they still care.

This whole process is new to my parents just like its new to me, I talk to them every day as well as the rest of my family, I have three brothers that I’m very close with and I’ve got a group of eight friends, my best buds. Those people, brothers, parents, friends, coaches, they’re the people that are there for me and there to support me,  it’s really nice knowing  even if I have a bad workout those people are going to be there for me.

I’ve worked out for Boston, Utah, Cleveland, Brooklyn, Houston, Detroit, the Lakers, Orlando, New Orleans, San Antonio and Golden State.

I’ve talked to my agent about my options if I am a free agent a little bit and I think every situation is different. I think if you have a realistic chance of getting called up, you and your agent think that’s the right move and you feel comfortable with it, then I think the Developmental League would be a very good option. But if you’re just there without a realistic chance to get called up and you have four or five guys in your spot on the 15-man roster on the top team there’s really no point in being there. So I think it does depend on the situation and deciding what’s right for you not only then but also for the future.

If I am fortunate enough to land on a roster anywhere would be incredible but I’m from Houston. I’ve always been a hometown guy but there’s not really a team that I rooted for as a kid. I love this place (Texas) and obviously all my friends and family are here so anywhere close by would be awesome, friends and family could watch me play and I wouldn’t be in a foreign area.

I’m having a blast in this whole process I get to travel the nation and play basketball. I could be sitting at a desk working a 9-to-5.

My advice to a player going through this process would be to stay focused. When you get to this stage there’s a ton of things that can distract you, stay focused on what your goal is because the truth of the matter is you’re only here for a matter of time, you go through this process once, and it’s not all on this process but for a guy like me who’s trying to play their way into the league it could be make or break you.

Stay focused and keep working on what got you to the point you’re at.

Above: Thomas Walkup opened some eyes during the NCAA Tournament. He hopes more are opened for him in the NBA. (Courtesy Hardy Meredith/SFA Athletics)

Monica McNutt

Monica McNutt is an anchor/reporter for American Sports Network