Celtics Rookie Lester Hudson Maturing on the Fly in Boston

As a student-athlete, Lester Hudson overcame many obstacles to get to the NBA. Now that he's there, the guard has even larger hurdles to clear in attempting to transfer his game to the professional level.

Hudson battled academic troubles during his collegiate years — so much so that the skilled scorer was unable to earn a scholarship. The Memphis native never graduated from high school and after earning his GED and spending some time in community college, Hudson paid his way at Tennessee-Martin. While there, he worked hard to keep his grades up. In doing so, Hudson was able to prove to the basketball world that he was the real deal on the court and that he was maturing off of it.

“He’s older than Perk [Kendrick Perkins], older than [Rajon] Rondo, older than JR [Giddens],” Celtics captain Paul Pierce told the Boston Herald. “He’s a lot more mature. Not your typical rookie, man. You can see it in his actions, you can see it in the way he plays. We joke about him being a guy who plays like a veteran at the park league. [He's] definitely tough. He’s a 25-year-old rookie. He’s come in and he understands the game a little bit better than the average 19- or 20-year-old. That’s good. He has a lot of college experience, and he looks like he belongs.”

Hudson took a different path to the NBA. While most players in this era are skipping out on college hoops altogether (some players are even leaving high school early), Hudson needed the college exposure and because of this, he became an NBA rookie earlier this spring at the age of 24.

Now 25, Hudson has a lot to prove to the C's hierarchy if he wants to earn a spot on the roster.

“I feel confident,” Hudson said before Tuesday night’s 91-88 preseason victory over the New Jersey Nets. “I feel I can help out and play my role. I’m a little more mature [in terms of age], but I still have to work harder and try to compete every day.”

Hudson's impressive career at T-M earned him a shot, but now the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder has to prove that he can adapt to the NBA game. So far in camp and in preseason games, Hudson has shown signs of promise but he's still a work in progress.

“The bottom line is that he played in college and he hasn’t played in the pros,” Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said. “The skill level is different, the quickness is higher. It’s very similar to a rookie quarterback in the NFL. There will be good and bad days — days when he thinks he can squeeze the ball in there and it doesn’t work. And he’s learning a new position in some ways. He had the ball in his hands in college, but he was a scorer. And now he’s trying to run a team with scorers. His scoring is secondary, and that’s tough to learn.”

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