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NBA PM: Erik McCree Hungry to Prove Himself

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Erik McCree established himself as a consistent scoring threat in three seasons at Louisiana Tech. Now, he is out to prove to NBA teams that he’s more than just a scorer.

After all, his production on the offensive end speaks for itself.

McCree averaged 17.7 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 33 games this past season for the Bulldogs and led his team in scoring and rebounds. He earned All-Conference USA First Team honors this season as he was one of only two players in the conference to rank in the top six in scoring and rebounds.

The 6-foot-8 forward shot 47 percent from the floor, including 36 percent from three-point range. He was one of only five forwards in the country to record at least 200 made field goals, 50 made three-pointers and 125 made free throws.

“I don’t really like people just labeling me as a big-time scorer,” McCree told Basketball Insiders. “I can do more than that. I’ve been able to do that my whole life. God just blessed me with that gift to have touch at my size to able to score the ball. I’m trying to stress to people that I can do more than score. I can really guard people.”

As McCree enters the pre-draft process to show teams his defensive abilities, there are a couple of stats that show his impact on the defensive end. He ranked fifth in Conference USA in both defensive rating and defensive win shares. His 2.3 defensive win shares rank 65th in the country among all players.

“[Teams] already pretty much know I can make shots, but I’m just trying to show I can guard a bunch of different positions,” McCree said. “That’s honestly what I’m going in focused on — making sure I’m in great shape and showing that I can guard multiple positions. That’s where the NBA is going with a bunch of versatile guys that can guard so that’s what I’m trying to showcase.”

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Part of the process for NBA prospects involves going through various on-court workouts. Teams love to see players that can turn in impressive shuttle times and high marks in jumping. Prospects are also put to the test in 3-on-3 and 5-on-5 settings as well.

A workout with an NBA team can be very beneficial for prospects this time of year. Players have an opportunity to show teams in a private environment why they should be drafted. In some cases, teams will work out prospects in a group setting in order to see how they stack up against the competition.

As much as these on-court workouts can help a player’s draft stock, the interview process has proven to be a key element during these meetings as well. Teams do extensive background checks on players they bring in for workouts, but it’s also important to have a face to face meeting as well.

McCree believes the interview off of the court is just as important as the on-court evaluation in impressing teams. As a senior, McCree will enter the draft as one of the older prospects available, but he believes that can give him an edge over some of the younger guys.

“When the lights are off and practice is over, teams are not going to have to worry about me when I’m off of the court,” McCree said. “I’m an older guy. I did four years in college so I’m mature. I feel like that’s the biggest thing I can bring to a team is maturity. I’m not a little boy anymore. I’m a grown man. I think that’s what really sets me apart.

“They do so much studying on your game there is nothing they don’t know about you. That probably is more important than on the court just the type of person you are. My mentality is to just go in there and being me; showing them who I am. I’m a good guy. I just have to be me. I don’t have to pretend to be anybody I’m not.”

McCree had an opportunity to meet with several teams at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament last month. The annual tournament brings in some of the top seniors in the country to showcase their respective games in front of representatives from every NBA team. In three games at Portsmouth, McCree averaged 14.3 points, four rebounds and three assists.

Teams will often ask players about their backgrounds, how they grew up and other related topics. They have also been known to ask prospects some random questions in order to see how they’ll react.

“I got one question, “What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think of the phrase ‘One and one’ or something like that,” McCree said. “That was probably the weirdest question I got. I just said, ‘Free throws.’”

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McCree has spent the past several weeks in Las Vegas training at Impact Basketball. He’s currently working out with several other Division I prospects, including many that are projected to be drafted next month.

Working out with so many of the top prospects in the draft has given McCree an opportunity to see where he stacks up against them. Many of those players were at powerhouse schools and had impressive collegiate resumes so working out with those players has made him more even more hungry to prove himself.

Does he believe he’s just as good as those players?

“Absolutely,” McCree said quickly. “No question. I feel like I’m just as good as anybody here. It might just be my confidence or it might just be that I’m delusional, but in my opinion, I’m just as good as anybody here.

“I know these guys are coming in with all of this pedigree because they went to big schools, but I don’t really care, to be honest. I’m coming to take that because I need it. I feel like I’m just as good as anybody. That’s my mentality and that’s how I’ve always been.”

McCree has worked out with the San Antonio Spurs and Orlando Magic so far and has more workouts scheduled in the coming days. His goal is just to impress as many executives as he can during the days leading up to the Draft and will let the chips fall where they may.

He didn’t earn an invitation to last week’s Draft Combine and he hails from a small school. He admits that he faces an uphill battle, but players have proven that making it to the NBA from a small school is possible.

McCree is just trying to become the latest to do it.

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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.