Pullen still a good investment for some NBA team

29 Jun

The 2011 NBA draft came and went without any team calling the name of former Kansas State Wildcat star Jacob Pullen. I would be highly surprised, however, if the 6-foot-nothing guard has played his last basketball. Here are some of the reason that pro teams should take a good hard look at Pullen and seriously consider signing him as a free agent.

1) Pullen is a talented, gritty player. He’s been outrageously successful in the college game, despite playing in the ultra-competitive Big 12 and weathering lots of scrutiny and changing situations. His freshman year marked the inauguration of head coach Frank Martin and the one and only college season of Michael Beasley. Pullen’s next two years, he had Denis Clemente, and as soon as Clemente finished his eligibility, people questioned Pullen’s ability to lead the team on his own. And yet, his senior year, he overcame some less-than-ideal situations and was the catalyst for turning the Wildcats from a 1-4 start in conference play to a 5-seed in the NCAA tournament.

Long story short: He’s been good for a long time, and in a variety of settings.

2) Pullen wants to win, and he is willing to bear the brunt of everything it takes to make that happen. When the Wildcats were in the midst of a mini-ski, he took serious flak for saying that he would not play in the NIT if his team was selected for that tournament instead of the NCAA. That video clip was played across the country, and many interpreted his comments as selfish, egotistical and in general not befitting a good teammate.

Of course, his intent was not to insult the NIT or teams that play in it. He simply said what was in the back of everyone else’s mind. A team can’t slop its way into the NCAA tournament, and the way Kansas State had been playing, it wasn’t entirely implausible to think that the Wildcats might not be chosen in 2011. By bringing that possibility to light, Pullen challenged his teammates. If he wasn’t going to play in the NIT, there was no way they were either. And so the Wildcats went on to win six straight – including huge victories over top 10 teams Kansas and Texas – on their way to a 5-seed in the NCAA tournament.

To sum up, Pullen is motivated. He’s also a good motivator.

3) Martin has nothing but good words to say about Pullen, and he is not the kind of man to say something he does not mean. Although I only know the coach as well as one can from a pair of press conferences each week, I’m still convinced that he would not endorse the character, heart and dedication of someone who was unworthy of that praise. Martin even took to Twitter to express his frustration at NBA teams for not taking Pullen in the draft and offered encouragement to his former player.

Bottom line: Pullen has at least one impressive (and sometimes intimidating) reference on his resume.

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