From the moment they are introduced to the game, many young men share a common dream; to one day play professionally on the world's largest stage as a part of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
At the outset of the 2011-12 season, there were 430 players on NBA rosters, a number that exceeds the amount of teams (344) in NCAA Division I basketball alone by a relatively small margin. Each year, 60 players are selected from among the thousands that are eligible at the annual NBA Draft. This is by far the smallest, most selective draft process employed by a major sports entity in this country.
Add in the fact that the NBA has transcended domestic borders in a manner unrivaled by any other American sports league, attracting the top talent from around the globe, and the odds of turning boyhood aspirations into a reality becomes incredibly daunting.
Such thoughts do not concern former Seton Hall point guard Jordan Theodore (Paterson Catholic - NJ Hoops #5 Class of 2008) however.
Over the past four years, SHU fans were given a front row seat to the maturation of one of the best floor generals in school history. Upon his arrival on campus, Theodore quickly endeared himself to the Pirate supporters everywhere by playing with a trademark passion that left no doubt that he had given his all each night.
In four years, Theodore did not miss a single game.
However, after having often been relegated to the periphery during his first three campaigns, the Englewood native transformed from a "sparkplug" of sorts and emerged as the Pirates' unquestioned leader during his senior season. Game after game, he played with the passion and confidence necessary to be successful at the next level, all while guiding an extremely young squad through the toughest conference in the country.
With Theodore at the helm, the Pirates' underclassmen-laden squad posted over 20 wins and scored a postseason victory with a first round victory over Stony Brook in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT), both firsts for the program since the 2003-04 season.
The year was also filled with individual milestones and accolades for Theodore who cemented his spot in Seton Hall history by surpassing the school's single-season assists record, a mark that had been held by Golden Sunkett for nearly 50 years. Theodore was truly the engine that powered the Pirate offense, leading SHU in scoring and assists while finishing in the top-10 in the BIG EAST both.
The Pirates' senior leader was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll five times throughout the season and capped his career with Second Team All-BIG EAST and All-Met First Team recognition.
Having recently completed his Seton Hall career, Theodore has turned his focus towards realizing his own dream. Despite a stellar four-year resume, he remains on the bubble to be selected in this year's draft which sits less than three weeks away.
Currently in the midst of a demanding schedule, Theodore recently sat down with SHUPirates.com to discuss the rigors of the NBA draft process and life after Seton Hall.
Q: First of all, congratulations on your recent graduation. Can you tell us what earning your degree meant to you?
Theodore: It felt great. It was a little bit of a weight off my shoulders, but at the same time it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It wasn't always easy, but I worked hard and received a lot of support over the last four years and I was able to get it done. I wanted to position myself to be able to do things off the court and eventually when my playing career is over. The most important thing to me though was making my mother proud. In this day and age, not all athletes earn their degree and I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend and now graduate from a school like Seton Hall.
Q: Turning our attention to basketball, the draft process started for you a little while ago when you attended the Portsmouth Invitational, a showcase for the top seniors in the country. You ended up leading the tournament in assists and made the All-Tournament team. Tell us about that experience.
Theodore: Well, like you said it was a great opportunity to go down there and play with some of the best guys in the country. It also gave me a chance to pick out some things I still need to work on. It was nice to make the All-Tournament team, but I wasn't really too concerned with numbers or awards. I just wanted to go down there, be a good teammate, put guys in the right position to make plays and help our team win. I think I was able to play pretty well and we ended up finishing in third place, but you know I wanted that championship!
Q: Portsmouth featured only seniors. What benefit do you think there is to having four years of collegiate experience under your belt?
Theodore: I think it's a tremendous asset. Look, there are plenty of guys who have gone into the league after one or two years and been successful, but that wasn't me. Staying in school for four years gave me the opportunity to grow as a person and also as a player, especially playing the point guard position. Also, playing in the BIG EAST is great preparation for playing professionally. You're going up against the top guys night in and night out with a lot on the line. I think I am much more equipped now to appreciate what it takes to be successful at this level and have a better understanding of the true role of somebody who has the ball in his hands.
Q: Since Portsmouth, you have obviously been training on your own, but you have also had the opportunity to attend NBA workouts with teams like the Knicks and the Nets. Take us through the workout process and explain what goes into it.
Theodore: Most of the time teams will contact you through your agent. They send you an itinerary so you know where you're supposed to be and when, but it's not like college anymore. You have to be responsible for yourself and make sure you get there. At this point it is a business and there are no excuses.
Q: Once you are at the team facility, what kinds of drill or activities do they ask you to do?
Theodore: Being a point guard, a guy who potentially will have the ball in my hands for the majority of the game, one thing they focus on is ball handling. Protecting the ball is so important at that level because when you turn it over, it is pretty much guaranteed that the other team will make you pay. Aside from that, we go through some basic tests like speed, verticals and lateral movement. Of course there's some shooting and being in a workout with a couple other guys, you get the opportunity to play one-on-one and show what you can do on both sides of the ball. The competition is intense because we're all out there gunning for the same spot.
Q: Can you name some of the guys you have had a chance to go up against so far?
Theodore: Man, I've been in there with some really good players so far. Some guys we played against during my time here like Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh), Tu Holloway (Xavier), Chris Smith (Louisville) and Alex Young (IUPUI). Zack Rosen of Pennsylvania is a guy we didn't play but someone I know because he's a local Jersey guy like me. I also got to play with Scott Machado (Iona), so overall it's been a good experience. Everybody's bringing it and playing at a high level so you need to make sure you make the most of the opportunity.
Q: Describe some of the feedback you have been getting throughout the process.
Theodore: I've gotten a lot of good feedback from a lot of teams, but I know that I need to keep my head down and keep working. The combine is going on right now and unfortunately I'm not there, but I'm training every day and I'm looking forward to some more workouts I have coming up in the next couple weeks.
Q: What are some of the things you have taken away from the experience to this point?
Theodore: I've learned a lot so far. I know I have to keep working to improve but I know that I belong with those guys and I can compete with the best. I go out there with the attitude that I am the best on that floor and I am out to prove it. I think in a setting like that, it's important to have a mindset like that because if you're tentative, you can almost psych yourself out of doing the things you've been doing your whole life. On the process overall, I've learned that the most important thing is to stay patient and committed to getting better every day. You have a lot of time where you're waiting and it would be easy to get into trouble so it's really important to stay focused.
Q: What is the best advice you have gotten throughout this process?
Theodore: The best advice I have gotten is to stay confident. You can lose confidence very quickly if you have a bad workout or receive some bad feedback, but this process is similar to playing in a game. You need to acknowledge the bad, and learn and grow from it, but you can't let it negatively affect the next thing you're doing. You need to have confidence in what you're doing because if you step on the floor without it, you will not perform well.
Q: Draft day is quickly approaching; do you have any specific plans for that day?
Theodore: No, not right now. To be honest, I haven't even thought about it. I'm just busy working on my game right now and I'll worry about draft day when it gets here.
Q: Do you think some nerves will set in as it gets closer?
Theodore: We'll see. I mean of course it's been a lifetime goal of mine to make it to the NBA and get drafted. I'm sure there will be some anticipation, but whether I get drafted or not, there's still going to be more work to do the next day.
Q: What would it mean to you to have your name called?
Theodore: It would mean everything. I think I might shed some tears [laughs]. I've worked hard to get to this point and to be drafted, that's something that no one can take away from you.
Q: We'll give you the final word. What can Jordan Theodore add to an NBA team?
Theodore: I think I can bring a lot to the table. I'm going to go wherever it is and do whatever I can to help the team win. I know a lot of guys say that, but whether it's getting a stop or finding guys in the right position on offense, I'm ready to do that. I see myself as a guy that can come in and bring some leadership to the point guard position and be someone that other players enjoy playing with because they know I'm going to leave it all out there.
There is no question that Theodore "left it all out there" during his Seton Hall career. Now, he is vying to become the first Seton Hall player selected in the NBA Draft since the duo of Samuel Dalembert and the late Eddie Griffin were selected in the first round in 2001.
With year's draft being held at the Prudential Center, a building all too familiar for Theodore, things have the opportunity to come full circle for the proud New Jersey native. With each bounce and each flick of the wrist, Theodore hopes to ensure that his name will reverberate throughout "The Rock" one final time.
The 2012 NBA draft will be take place on June 28. Start-time is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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