As part of the TrueLosAngeles series, I took a look at DeAndre Jordan and how the former second-round pick went on to become one of the NBA’s best centers. Click here to read the article in full. Here is an excerpt:
Eight years earlier, Jordan had told basketball luminary Sonny Vaccaro practically the same thing. He had just finished a week at the Vaccaro-run Adidas ABCD Elite camp, and he had played well, according to Vaccaro, “beating up on guys, future All-Stars.” But the moment that stands out for Vaccaro came after camp’s final game. Most of the players had already cleared the gym when Vaccaro was approached by a big kid in a hoodie.
“I see it’s DeAndre,” Vaccaro said recently. “He had done well, played very well, but he came over to me and he said, ‘I’m gonna show you. I’m gonna be a great player one day.’ He wanted me to know that he could do better.” Sonny pauses for a moment. “That’s what made me think he would succeed. He cares and he wants people to know that he cares.”
Jordan’s dedication hasn’t always seemed that clear. His single season of college ball at Texas A&M was a disappointment. Billy Gillespie recruited Jordan, then skipped town for Kentucky that summer. Gillespie’s successor, Mark Turgeron, ran a slower, less offensively minded system. Coach and player often found themselves at cross purposes: Turgeron wanted Jordan to focus on defense and rebounds, while Jordan felt he needed the ball in order to showcase his talents for NBA scouts. Soon, there were whispers coming out of College Station that Jordan was unmotivated, with a “questionable attitude.” His effort vacillated, especially when he didn’t feel included on offense. Turgeron said DJ was “18 going on 12.”
“There was a reason he came in ranked so high,” an NBA executive told me. “And there was a reason he fell so far. He had real maturity issues coming out of college.”