Quaker Hopes

Posted: July 10, 2012

SOMEDAY SOMEONE is going to tell Zack Rosen that his basketball days are over, that his 6-foot body accompanied by immeasurable smarts has gone as far as it can go.

Rosen, though, doesn't see that day coming any time soon and for him, hopefully, not until he's fulfilled his dream of playing in the greatest league in the world.

Rosen, who earned Big 5 Player of the Year honors after a stellar senior season for the Penn Quakers, is down in Orlando with a contingent of rookies and NBA wanna-bes on a 76ers roster that will compete with seven other teams in the Orlando Summer League at the Amway Center. While you don't need a Penn education to know how stacked the odds are against him as far as making it to the NBA, betting against Rosen certainly could be a bit dicey.

Thoughts of a chance at playing in the NBA took a serious turn upward during his senior season, in which he averaged 18.2 points, shot better than 45 percent from the floor (including 40 percent from three-point range) and dealt 5.2 assists for coach Jerome Allen's club. He finished as the Penn leader in career assists (588), games started (115) and minutes (4,198) while racking up 1,723 points, good for third on the all-time Quaker list.

While the games this week (all teams will play five games in 5 days) will mostly feature the type of play that is found on most playgrounds throughout the country, Rosen will stick to his type of team-first game, no matter what's going on around him.

"Being in a league like this is kind of different," said Rosen, 23. "This is sort of like the A-B-C-D camps [for major high school recruits] again when you were looking to get colleges' interest in you. I've never taken that type of individual approach when it comes to the game, that's just who I am. If me being myself and playing my game is going to hurt my chances, then so be it. I can live with that. I put up the numbers that I did at Penn by playing a team game. I wasn't the type of player to look beyond the team. I didn't take ill-advised shots. And if it's going to hurt me playing that way, there's nothing I can do about it because I'm not going to change."

Who would want him to? It's not as if Rosen's 170-pound body is going to start running through and around people, that he will magically turn into anything much different than the heady, steady ballplayer that he's been pretty much all his life.

Since Thursday, Rosen has gone through six workouts with those gathered under the watchful eye of coach Doug Collins and his assistants. While the workouts have been draining, both mentally and physically, Rosen really sees himself in the perfect spot to shine.

"The Sixers are a unique kind of NBA team, I think, in that they really run a specific offense," said Rosen. "I've learned so much from coach Collins and his staff so far. It's certainly a lot different than college. I definitely can't do the things defensively here that I could do in college. But offensively, a lot of the schemes fit well with me. I'm a screen-and roll player, that's my ace in the hole, and they do a lot of that. This being a very structured offense is a plus for me also."

Rosen played nearly every minute for Allen this past season and a week or 2 off following that grind certainly would have been expected. But Rosen's lifelong dream of playing professionally is right there in front of him. Perhaps it's attainable. Perhaps it's like grapsing at an object while wearing 3-D glasses.

"I didn't take any time off after the season was over," Rosen said. "Normally I would, especially with playing so many minutes and with the tough practices that Jerome has. That takes a toll on your body. But I wanted to get ready for Portsmouth [predraft workouts for college players], and then not long after that were the predraft workouts for the NBA teams. It's not in my nature to really take time off from playing basketball, especially not now."

Rosen didn't have a workout with the Sixers, but did perform in Phoenix, Detroit, Chicago, Sacramento and Minnesota. While he certainly hopes to latch on with the Sixers, who are in need of a backup point guard, though preferably one who has NBA experience, Rosen knows that he is showcasing himself this week for any and all lookers.

"The only thing I can do is play the way that I know," Rosen said. "I know full well that there are guys who make it in the NBA because they have a specialty, whether it be shooting or scoring or passing the ball. I'm a guy, I think, who can do many things well. Hopefully, that works in my favor."

And if it doesn't work out?

"Devastated is a tough word, I wouldn't say that," Rosen said. "I expect to play at a higher level, whether it's the NBA or Europe. There are positives and negatives to each league. But my goal all along has been to play pro ball. I think I can do that." 

Contact Bob Cooney at cooneyb@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @BobCooney76. Read his blog at www.philly.com/Sixerville.

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