2010 NBA Draft Prospect Interview: Brandon Hazzard

Brandon Hazzard left Troy after his senior season with a laundry list of awards.   Sun Belt Player of the Year by collegeinsider.com, two time All-Sun Belt first team, and 2010 Sun Belt All-Tournament team.  The fact is, Brandon didn’t go to the biggest school, but he left a huge mark once he got there.  Now he’s not the biggest player on the court, but he’s hoping to leave his mark on every workout he’s a part of.

Most college players with his resume already had a chance to play in front of NBA executives at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament.  For some reason, which we don’t’ fully understand, Brandon wasn’t on the list.  He expected to get an invite, but hasn’t let it derail his dream of one day playing in the NBA.  He’s currently working out in Baltimore with Marquis Gilstrap, Ricky Harris, Kevin Palmer, Devin Sweetney and various other NBA hopefuls.

Everyone we’ve talked to about Brandon has great things to say about his game and him as a person.  He shoots the ball incredibly well and has enough speed to get space for his jumper, but lacks the size to play shooting guard in the NBA.  In order to compensate, he’s refining his ball handling and the rest of his point guard skills.  Brandon already has the intangibles that teams look for in a point guard, he’s a vocal leader, attacks the rim, and gets his teammates easy looks.

Brandon told us he has a couple of NBA workouts set up already with the Hawks and the Wizards.  The Rookie Wall is confident that he’ll make his presence felt during both.  Players from small schools are becoming more common in the NBA and Brandon hopes he can follow in their footsteps.  When we spoke with him he mentioned George Hill and Courtney Lee as players from smaller schools that are making an impact.  So far in his preparation he’s carrying that small school banner proud during workouts in Baltimore, and just in case a player from a big school thinks they can take Brandon lightly, check out this story from trainer Joe Connelly.

“He tried to take it upstairs on Marquis [Gilstrap from Iowa State], he didn’t bring it home but he got up there and it was one of those ‘don’t sleep on me’ moments.”

We’re hoping that NBA teams, and the players he’s up against, won’t be sleeping on him either.

Read our full interview with Brandon below:

TheRookieWall.com: You played your high school basketball at Soutwest Dekalb High School, 20 minutes outside of Atlanta.  Who were some of the best players you played against in high school/AAU?

Brandon Hazzard: The great thing about playing in a large city like Atlanta, I was given an opportunity to play with and against great competition in AAU and High school like Louis Williams, JJ Hickson, Jodie Meeks and Javaris Crittenton. There is a very competitive basketball culture in Atlanta and playing with competition like that made me better.

TRW: You played 4 years at Troy, how did you end up deciding to play your college basketball there?  Who was the toughest players you went up against at Troy?

BH: When I saw recruited I was told I would have the chance to make an immediate impact and become a team leader. Troy did not have a winning season in the Sunbelt Conference before I had arrived and I wanted to be apart of turning the program around. Courtney Lee was one of the toughest players I played against while at Troy, he scored the ball with little effort and made the game look easy.

TRW: You were the best player in the Sun-Belt conference this year.  Were you upset about not being invited to Portsmouth?  Do you feel you’ve been looked over since you went to a smaller school?

BH: I was proud that I was first team all-conference two years in a row and I did expect to get a Portsmouth invitation. I understand that sometimes recognition is hard to get at a small school like Troy and have faith that I will be given an opportunity to show what I can do in front of NBA teams.

TRW: What NBA player do you compare your game to?

BH: I would like compare my games to Deron Williams. I feel like I am a similar shooter, I can get to different spots on the floor like him, and we both like to get our teammates involved. So when people compare me to Deron Williams, I considered it an honor because he is a floor general and true point guard.

TRW: What was the highlight of your college career?

BH: The highlight of my career was winning Troy’s first Sunbelt Conference title. I stated earlier that the reason why I went to Troy was to help turn the program around and winning the championship proves that all my hard work paid off.

TRW: Have you signed with an agent yet?  If so, why did you select them as your agent?

BH: Yes, I signed with Eric Fleisher of Assist Sports. Eric was very professional and he gave me facts about my game and what to expect at the next level. Assist Sports feels like a family and Eric gives direct attention to all his clients. I am certain I made the right decision.

TRW: What are you working on this summer to improve your game?

BH: The first thing I am working on is improving my conditioning and understanding the difference between the college game and the pro game. Joe [Connelly] is a phenomenal trainer, he makes tough workouts fun. Joe’s workouts are far from easy but it is a fact that you will be a much improved player when he’s done with you. I look forward going to Joe’s workouts to learn and get better everyday.

TRW: You’re currently projected as undrafted, what are your plans if you go undrafted?

BH: I did not come into the draft process with a lot of notoriety and because of that my projected draft position is undrafted. I plan on using the workouts to show teams my basketball and leadership skills. Any decision that I make of playing over seas or NBDL will be based on my ultimate goal of playing in the NBA one day.

TRW: Anything you’d like to add?

BH: I am very blessed and humble to have an opportunity to play at the next level. I know I can impress general managers and scouts at the workouts. I would like my story to be similar to George Hill and Courtney Lee’s and get drafted from a small school. I believe I can also make an instant impact for an NBA team just as they have.

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