WALTHAM, Mass. — Shabazz Napier’s face was the last one most college basketball fans saw this season after UConn cut down the nets at the Final Four. Keith Appling played on national TV so often at Michigan State, it’s doubtful he even notices cameras anymore.
And then there’s Dave Dudzinski.
Standing 6-foot-9 and weighing in at 227 pounds, Dudzinski is tough to miss, but for the last four years he might as well have been invisible. Playing for Holy Cross in the Patriot League, Dudzinski seldom played before more of an audience than the students and alumni in the stands at the Hart Center. On Monday, however, he was on the court with those same nationally known players at a pre-draft workout for the Boston Celtics.
“It’s kind of a surreal moment, being out here with all these guys you watched on TV all year,” Dudzinski said. “The opportunity is fantastic and I’m really happy to be here to show them what I can do.”
Dudzinski was one of six players at the Celtics’ practice facility for the seventh workout held by the team in preparation for the 2014 NBA draft on June 26. Holy Cross is the smallest school represented so far in three weeks of workouts, a fact that was not lost on the Elburn, Ill., native.
“Coming from a smaller school, you’ve got to work that much harder, but those that rely on their past accomplishments don’t make it very far in this business,” Dudzinski said. “It’s the guys that are able to continually show they’re capable who make it to the next level. That’s what I tried to show out here.”
Mostly a back-to-the-basket player at Holy Cross, Dudzinski understands he role will have to shift as a professional, either stateside or abroad. He averaged 15.2 points per game last season, shooting 82 percent from the foul line and 35 percent from three, so there is some promise his game could translate into making him a stretch-forward. His objective at Monday’s workout, was to show the Celtics he could put the ball on the floor and defend on the perimeter.
As a non-native New Englander, Dudzinski apparently wasn’t familiar with the pipeline the Celtics once had to Holy Cross. The program did not play up the history involving the likes of Bob Cousy or Tom Heinsohn to its players, he said, because “they want you to focus on your college years first.” Still, he acknowledged it was an honor to wear the shirt of the NBA team Cousy once played for.
Dudzinski could not begin to imagine what it might be like to follow in his fellow Crusaders’ footsteps, however.
“I’m sitting over there thinking about everything I did wrong — missed that shot right there, should have passed that one over there,” Dudzinski said. “But at the same time, I think they got a good feel for me, my work ethic and my skill set.”
No matter how he did, Dudzinski had an advantage over the other players on the court Monday. Unlike the other prospects, Dudzinski came in with few preconceived notions on the part of the Celtics. He couldn’t let them down, since they hadn’t seen enough to know what to expect in the first place.
Photo via Facebook/Dave Dudzinski