TBL: Isaiah Roby

"The Mavs have a great franchise," said Isaiah Roby on previously being a Dallas Mavericks' fan. "I've seen them win a championship in my lifetime."

Former Nebraska forward Isaiah Roby became the first Husker selected in the NBA Draft in 20 years earlier this month. He was picked 45th overall by the Dallas Mavericks.

Since draft night, Roby’s been living at home in Dixon, Illinois, working out in preparation for Summer League play, which begins July 5.

We caught up with Roby soon after his daily workout to talk about getting drafted, and what’s next for him:

On where he's at now:

“Right now I’m in Sterling, Illinois. So, close to Dixon. Just got out of the gym, just got a workout in. They just built a new gym over here this past year, so now I don’t have to drive an hour and a half to get a workout in.”

On driving an hour and a half to work out:

“Yeah, so my first two summers coming back from Nebraska there’s no — Dixon’s a small town, so in Dixon we got a YMCA and a high school. That’s really the only two gyms we got. And the high school has been on lockdown every summer doing renovations, and the YMCA ... it’s not a good gym. A lot of little kids around. So, yeah, I would drive either an hour and a half to the Quad Cities or two and a half hours to Chicago every day to work out.”

On draft night:

“It was cool, it was a dream come true. That’s a night that everybody who picks up a basketball dreams about. Going into the night, I wasn’t sure when I was gonna go. There was a lot of guys in that range, and even the guys who thought they were gonna go lottery, they thought they were gonna go lottery and ended up in the 20s or even second round. I was just sitting there all night surrounded by friends and family and — we were having a good time, we got to play bags, got to play some Mario Kart, just whatever to pass the time. And then my range was about 20 to 45, so I had to watch that whole thing. And that was like a super long gap, watched about 2½ hours straight up of guys getting picked. But in the end, I couldn’t be happier with my situation in Dallas, and I’m excited to get out there and get to work.”

On finding out he was picked:

“So, actually how it goes is they talk to your agent, or whoever represents you, and so my agent said, ‘Do you want me to tell you or do you want to see it?’ And I said, ‘No, you need to call me.’ (Laughs.) I really wasn’t nervous because I knew if I didn’t get the call, I wasn’t gonna get picked. So I was feeling pretty good all night and then I actually got — he told me, ‘Dallas is gonna pick you if you’re still available at 37.’ Because they originally had the 37th pick. And I was like, ‘That’s awesome, OK, I’ll either go 37th or I’ll go higher. Great spot.’ So pick 36 came and (Dallas) ended up trading their pick. And then I was completely lost. And that’s when nerves started to set in. And at about pick 44 I was super nervous. And then pick 44 came and he told me, ‘Dallas is gonna take you at 45.’ And I was like, ‘I’m not gonna believe it until I hear my name.’ But it was awesome, though.”

On his community's support and parade:

“Yeah, Dixon, I got a lot of support out here, not just in Dixon but in the surrounding areas. But that’s why I think coming from a small town is special. You get that kind of support. In a big city they might have tens or even hundreds of draft picks, so to be the first in this whole area is huge.”

On when he thought he had a got a shot at being drafted:

“I would say after my sophomore season. That’s when I started to hear stuff from agents and started hearing stuff from NBA scouts and saw NBA scouts at my practice. And at the time I was like, ‘Those guys are here for James (Palmer).’ And obviously, James was having a great season, but coaches were telling me, ‘No, they’re here for you, too.’ And (scouts) said, ‘You got great length, you’re a versatile player, and you can do a lot. The biggest thing you gotta work on is being consistent and being a pro every day.’ So going into my junior year, that was like my challenge. Going into the year that’s what me and Coach (Tim) Miles had talked about. It was like, ‘All your guys are leaving. They’re graduating. Glynn (Watson) and (Isaac) Copeland and James and, you should be leaving with them.’ And that was my mindset going into the year.”

On a particular game that said he was ready for the next level:

“There were games I’d go back and watch the film, and it’s like, ‘That player is no doubt an NBA player.’ And NBA teams saw that as well. And then when I’d go meet with them and talk with them, the games where, there were some games where I wouldn’t show up, and those were the games that they had question marks about. And those are the games that I won’t be allowed to have at the next level. So that’s something I’ve been trying to work on.”

On being a Dirk Nowitzki and Mavs fan:

“Yeah I mean, the Mavs have a great franchise. I’ve seen them win a championship in my lifetime. My grandma actually, I remember when we were watching the Mavs versus the Heat in the finals, and my grandma became a Mavs fan early on. So she was a huge Dirk fan. Obviously they had Jason Kidd at the time and they had a really good team. I remember watching them when I was really young. Dirk is a guy, he’s a hall of famer, he’s a guy I’ve watched a lot of film on and someone I wish — I imagine he’ll be around — that’s one thing I’m looking forward to is learning from these guys and learning how to be a pro and taking stuff from those guys every day.”

On being in a franchise with Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic:

“For sure. Going up against guys like Luka and Porzingis, they’ve got a young team. They’re looking to pick up some guys in free agency and be a competitive team this year, so when I go down there, I go down there this weekend, my first goal is obviously to make the roster and spend as much time in the league as possible to help this team win games.”

On having an ‘Oh my gosh I’m in the NBA’ moment:

“Coming from where I come from, I didn’t meet an NBA player until I was a sophomore in college, and that was Ty Lue. And this summer I got to meet a bunch of guys. At the combine, Roy Hibbert, he’s coaching me, and Kendrick Perkins is the coach on the other team. And walking through the hallways, you see guys you grew up watching on TV and you go to these team workouts and you meet these guys. I met Steph Curry and Shaun Livingston at Golden State. Met Manu Ginobili, met, obviously, Coach (Gregg) Popovich, so I mean, its just like, ‘Wow, I’m really a part of this.’ ”

On his next plans:

“I go out to Dallas Sunday. We’ll have a few practices with the Summer League team, then we’re heading to Vegas for the Summer League. And then after that, just competing and just get better and getting ready for training camp and rookie camp.”

On short and long term goals:

“I’d say a longer-term goal is to be a starter in this league and be a starter in the league for many years to come. And then I would say short term ... short term? I would say win Summer League. That’d be a short-term goal I’m looking forward to.”

On communication with current Mavs:

“Yeah, after I got drafted I talked with Coach (Rick) Carlisle, Mark Cuban, talked with the GM and then some guys reached out. You know, like Luka reached out to say congratulations, Daryl Macon reached out and gave me his number and said whenever you get to Dallas hit me up.”

On playing James Palmer in the summer league:

“Nah, I know all his moves so I’m good. I’ll be sitting on it. And I’m gonna be screaming them out the whole time. If we play them I’m gonna be screaming out, ‘heavy pull-up, left.’ Every time. I’m trying to win, I’m trying to win.”

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