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NBA PM: Craig Victor Improving Since College

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Craig Victor’s path to this point has been filled with plenty of twists and turns. Now, he’s putting his past behind him and is fully focused on the upcoming NBA Draft.

Victor was once considered to be a top-40 prospect prior to arriving at the University of Arizona for his freshman year in 2014. He played in just 57 minutes that season and opted to transfer from Arizona to LSU.

In what turned out to be his best season collegiately, Victor averaged 11.5 points, 5.6 rebounds and one steal per game during his sophomore campaign at LSU. While Victor quietly had a solid season for the Tigers, he and most of his teammates were overlooked playing next to Ben Simmons that year.

Victor couldn’t duplicate that success this past season at LSU.

Just hours before the Tigers tipped off conference play in the SEC, the school announced that they had dismissed Victor from the program for violation of team rules. He averaged 10.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.3 steals and one assist in just eight games this season.

He admits he struggled with his maturity at times.

“Being in Arizona and leaving quick, a lot of people will say that I didn’t give it a chance or wasn’t mature enough,” Victor told Basketball Insiders. “It was a maturity thing for me; I needed to mature more. I know I had things I needed to work on — off of the court and on the court. I’d just say the process has been good for me because it’s a lot of things I can do that people don’t know I can.”

Since leaving LSU, Victor has spent the past six months or so working out with Tony Falce of Elite Skills Training in Miami. While he has dramatically improved his game on the court, he has arguably improved just as much off of the court. Falce says that he has noticed a big improvement in his drive and work ethic during his time with Victor.

A big part of that change was because of Chris Andersen.

Oftentimes, Falce will enlist current and former NBA players to stop in and speak to his group of draft prospects. Andersen is among the players that have offered Victor some words of encouragement and advice as he transitions into the NBA pre-draft process. Falce believes Andersen’s message resonated well with Victor, and he now has a great understanding of what it takes to make it in the NBA.

When things didn’t go as planned, Victor knew it would get better.

“I would just say to keep God first,” Victor said. “My mom is a strong believer in Christ. She raised us in a church home so I know we’re all guaranteed an everlasting life in the end so when things go not so well, I look up, say a few prayers I know that God will take care of everything else.”

Victor has had the opportunity to workout against some other Division I prospects, like Kennedy Meeks, Kasey Hill, JaCorey Williams and Dennis Ashley, among others.

By all accounts, Victor has fully committed himself to becoming a better player. Players working out in Miami have the opportunity to participate in beach workouts that can be extremely beneficial in building endurance and stamina. In just under six months in Miami, Victor has improved his conditioning and has cut down on his body fat as well.

“I want to say for the last five months, this is the hardest that I’ve ever worked,” Victor said. “By taking care of my body, eating right, working out with Tony every day, it’s just different. I’ve lost three percent body fat. I’m faster, I can jump higher, I’m quicker. I’m still adapting to my body myself, I’m like, ‘Oh, I made that move quick!’ Last year at that time, there’s no way I could have made those moves. I know how important it is with taking care of your body, eating right and drinking a lot of water because it’s hot down here in Florida!”

The 6-foot-9 forward is in the final preparations for the Elite Skills Training Pro Day on Sunday, June 4. He will have a great opportunity to showcase his skills in front of the 23 NBA teams expected to be in attendance. He wants to prove to teams that he’s in great shape and can shoot the ball. His range has expanded much further since he’s arrived in Miami compared to when he played at LSU.

Above all, he wants to show that he’s a good teammate.

“I can fit in to wherever the team needs me and that’s any team,” Victor said. “Helping my teammates out, speaking on defense, encouraging other players when they’re not making shots. Keeping a smile on my face when I’m not making shots because I know it’s a game of basketball and the ball doesn’t always go in. I just try to create energy elsewhere.”

A strong showing in front of these teams on Sunday could mean an invitation for a private workout at a team’s facility. A private workout can go a long way in helping him catch on with an NBA team.

Make sure to follow Basketball Insiders on Twitter at @BBallInsiders.

About Cody Taylor

Cody Taylor

Cody Taylor is an NBA writer in his fourth season with Basketball Insiders, covering the NBA and NCAA out of Orlando and Miami.