Former Lakers attend pro basketball exposure camp

GVL / Archive
Nick Waddell goes strong to the hoop in a past win over Ashland.

GVL Archives

GVL / Archive Nick Waddell goes strong to the hoop in a past win over Ashland.

Brady Fredericksen

For James Thomas and Nick Waddell, basketball was the reason they came to Grand Valley State University. Basketball was the reason the two met, and it was the reason the two became close friends after transferring to GVSU in 2010.

With their college careers over, the former roommates plan to continue their basketball careers overseas, with the hopes of seeing those professional dreams become reality after their participation in the Chris Coates Pro Exposure Camp in Derry, N.H. on July 7 and 8.

“I felt like I accomplished my goal going in there, I talked to a couple coaches and they said I could start off my career in Germany,” Waddell said. “I don’t feel like it was one of the top camps to go to, but I just went there trying to really accomplish my goal and just put my name out there.”

With scouts and coaches from Spain, Hungary, Italy, Germany, China, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, Norway, South America and U.S. pro leagues, the camp gave the two a chance to make an impression in front of talent evaluators from leagues all across the globe.

“I don’t get nervous playing or doing drills in front of anybody because I feel like if you’re going to like me you’re going to like me, and if you don’t, you don’t,” Waddell said. “I wasn’t there to prove somebody a point, I just was hoping that I could impress one person.”

The camp featured around 75 players, many of which were guards, and served as less of a showcase for player’s ability to perform in drills and more of an opportunity for coaches and scouts to see players in game-like situations with scrimmages.

Those scrimmages, which consisted of a mini-tournament during the two-day camp, eventually saw Waddell’s team meet Thomas’ in the championship game — a game won by Thomas and his team.

“Both me and Nick played against each other in the championship, which I think kind of tells how hard we went down there — how our mindset was — so I think that says a lot,” said Thomas.

A scorer with one of the top shooting strokes in the GLIAC over the last two years, Thomas has yet to hear from any teams directly, but is expecting to hear from professional teams in Europe in the forthcoming weeks.

“My mindset going into (the camp) was just to go out and play my game and just show everyone what I’m capable of doing,” said Thomas, an All-GLIAC First Team member last season. “I know I’m capable of playing professional basketball, so I just wanted to show everybody what I was capable of doing and playing hard.”

Waddell, a big man who dropped nearly 50 pounds in his two seasons at GVSU, has had discussions with camp coordinator Chris Coates about teams in the German professional leagues.

The big man also worked out at an NBA Developmental League National Tryouts on June 2 at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. After participating in the tryout, league officials informed Waddell that he would be eligible for the 2012 NBA D-League Draft in September.

Until the two finalize plans for the seasons – which will begin in the fall – their plan is to continue to work out in preparation for the season.

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