Strong drive 
for the draft

Terran Petteway has turned heads at the NBA combine. Now he needs to further boost his stock in team workouts, says Erick Strickland, another ex-Husker who played nine seasons in the NBA and has helped coach Petteway at the combine.

LINCOLN — Terran Petteway’s work this week at the NBA combine has turned some heads, potentially moving the former Nebraska star into a stronger position to get picked in next month’s two-round, 60-man draft.

Says who?

Another former Nebraska star — one with a ringside seat at the combine — offered that evaluation Friday.

Erick Strickland, who played nine years in the NBA, is working the combine after an invitation from the league office, and co-coached Petteway’s team in five-on-five games.

“I think he will be drafted,” Strickland said by phone from Chicago. “He’s got good footwork, and he has the capability of defending well. He’s got to continue to work on ball-handling and not just being a streak shooter.”

In Thursday’s scrimmage, Petteway had 12 points, three rebounds and two steals in 19 minutes of his team’s 80-77 victory. His team was plus-8 during his time.

On Friday, Petteway’s team won 93-89. He scored eight points and had two clinching free throws with eight seconds left. His team was plus-16 in his 24 minutes.

“With another good day here and with how he performs in team workouts before the draft,” Strickland said, “he may be able to slide into the second round.”

Getting drafted is no guarantee of an NBA roster spot.

Former Husker Venson Hamilton, the 1999 Big 12 player of the year and NU’s all-time leader in rebounds and blocks, got drafted in the second round but never played in the NBA. He had a decadelong career in the top-level European leagues.

By the same token, not getting drafted doesn’t end NBA hopes. Strickland is an example of that.

The former Bellevue West standout, who already had tried professional baseball (as a 31st-round pick of the Florida Marlins), had basketball draft hopes after scoring 1,586 points at Nebraska and making the Big Eight all-defensive team three straight years.

Strickland’s name wasn’t called. But during an individual workout with the Dallas Mavericks, he caught the eye of Director of Scouting Ron Ekker.

“Ron saw something in me that others didn’t, and pushed for me,” Strickland said. “That got me a chance, and it was up to me to put in the work.”

Tryouts at team facilities between now and the June 25 draft could impact Petteway’s future similarly.

“Once he gets to the workouts, he can make a good play for himself,” Strickland said. “It’s just got to be the right team. I don’t know that a system-based team would be right for him.”

Bad fits: Chicago, New York, Memphis, Miami and Minnesota, Strickland said.

Good fits: Golden State, Los Angeles Clippers, Houston, Atlanta and Dallas.

Petteway’s game reminds Strickland of Corey Brewer of the Houston Rockets, Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs or Andre Iguodala of Golden State — getting out on the wing, less ball-handling and the ability to hit shots and set up teammates.

“Terran’s willingness to work and his heart are things teams would like,” Strickland said. “He’s a good character guy. He listens and soaks up things like a sponge, and works on things he needs to better himself.

“If he does that, watches film, learns and improves his decision-making, I think he’ll do fine as a pro.”

Nebraska’s 13-18 record didn’t help Petteway’s draft situation.

“It was tough to judge him,” Strickland said. “He didn’t have much help last year. There wasn’t a consistent guy to help him or set him up, so Terran had to handle a lot of things himself. That didn’t really work to his favor.

“But now he has a chance to show what he can do.”

Husker coach Tim Miles watched parts of Petteway’s combine games on TV, and texted him good wishes.

“People are seeing he’s more coachable and competitive than emotional,” Miles said. “People who only see his quick reactions on the court, they equate that with a negative. But that’s not always a negative reaction.”

During the scrimmages, Petteway was noticeable for chatting up teammates, sparking communication and offering encouragement when on the bench.

“I think people there will be impressed with Terran,” Miles said. “I hope he continues to perform well, and does even better in the workouts.”

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