Villanova guard Maalik Wayns scoffs at low NBA draft predictions

Wayns
Wayns
Posted: June 06, 2012

MAALIK WAYNS is well aware of the various projections. For what they’re worth, most NBA mock drafts have the former Villanova point guard going somewhere in the bottom half of the second round on June 28. If they have him getting taken at all. He doesn’t care. Nor should he. Because it only takes one team. And then it’s going to be up to him to make something happen.

"I look at a couple of people they have [rated] in front of me, and I feel as though I’m as good or better than them," said the Roman Catholic product, who left college a year early to pursue his lifelong dream. "I use that as motivation. I can only control what I can control. There’s 30 teams. It’s all about getting that one to fall in love with you."

That’s exactly what he’s trying to do, as he works out for what seems like just about everyone. It’s called making the rounds. He’s already been seen by the Sixers, Nets, Rockets, Warriors and Clippers, and there are more showcases coming up. If nothing else, it’s a start in the only direction he wants to travel.

"It’s been wild, different," said Wayns, who was the leading scorer [17-point average] last season for a team that went 13-19. "I’ve been all over. But it’s a good experience. I think I’m improving in all areas. I’m shooting much better. I’ve changed my jumper. I’m shooting at the top of my release now. It’s a lot of things like that. It’s more about repetition. I’ve got more time on my hands, just being a professional. It seems like I’m in another place almost every day.

“I love it. I’m soaking it all up. I’m just glad to be in this situation, wherever I go. I’m blessed to have a shot to make it in the NBA. So I’m humble and hungry.

“I mean, at the first one I was a little nervous. But after that you get more comfortable. You’re a basketball player. I’m confident in myself. I think if we’d had a better season, I would have been one of those top guys. Everybody’s got their own path. I have to show them what I can really do. It’s up to me."

He was a McDonald’s All-American as a high-school senior, and a second-team all-Big East selection as a junior for the Wildcats. There’s no denying his talent. But at this level, it’s all about getting better. He’s competing for a paycheck now. And he’s realistic enough to understand that the difference between almost making it and having a career can be minute. So every detail helps.

"Actually, every team I’ve been to has given me positive feedback," Wayns said. "But you’re still never really sure if that means they’re going to want you when the time comes. I have to just focus on the task at hand. I have to make an impression, just do my best when I go somewhere. June 28 will be a joyful day for me …

“We’ll see what happens. But that’s just a starting point. It’s a marathon. Hopefully, I can have a long race. I have some friends in the NBA, [Villanova alum] Kyle [Lowery], John Wall, Chauncey Billups, all telling me what to expect. I try to put that to good use. I think the biggest part is them getting to know you as a person. They already know how I play. Character goes a long way.

“If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? I have great support, people who are behind me 100 percent. I’m taking it as a process. I just can’t wait to find out where it’s going to take me." n

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