Rookies Ready To Make Their Mark

Rookies Ready To Make Their Mark

June 21st, 2018 – A low murmur grips the Barclays Center as the last couple of fans trickle into the upper level. Down on the ground Jaren Jackson Jr. is fiddling with his rose gold suit jacket. A couple of tables over Collin Sexton is sitting with his family and friends. Towards the front Miles Bridges is sitting next to his mother talking with his college coach Tom Izzo. Tonight Adam Silver will be announcing where the next phase of these young athletes careers will begin. It is an emotional night for all those involved full of happy tears and priceless reactions when their name is called.

Miles immediately embraced his mom, Jaren beamed with pride as he stood up pumping his fist, and Collin shook up with his family and friends before making his way to the stage. It marked the culmination of a long journey that began when these young ballers first stepped onto the basketball court. It’s a signal that all the time spent in the gym, the countless reps in the weight room, and all the nights spent dissecting film was worth it.

Charlotte Hornets Rookie Miles Bridges

Draft night was a dream come true for Miles, who has idolized NBA players as a kid. “I couldn’t see myself doing any other job, so I’m just happy to be in this situation.” For Jaren there was simply no way he could emotionally prepare himself for hearing his name called. “When it finally happens you’re like whoa, there are no words to describe it. I was just trying not to trip on the way up.” Collin Sexton was anxious for most of draft night wondering who was going to take a chance on him. When it was announced he was heading to Cleveland, relief flooded through him. “It was the best feeling ever because of all the smiling faces, all the hard times I faced getting here, for me to hear my name called was big.”

As they get settled in their new cities with their new teams, each one of them is ready to prove they belong in this league. With his ability to switch onto guards while still being able to protect the rim at an elite level, Jaren was seemingly built for the modern NBA. On offense, his multi-faceted game includes the oh-so important ability to step out and consistently knock down the three-ball. Despite his immense talent, Jaren still feels he needs to prove he was worthy of the No. 4 overall pick to the team’s veterans. He also wants to show the fans what he’s made of. “Defense-first attitude, just going out there and making sure you make people feel your presence. Don’t try to hide during the game, always try to be active, keep moving, and be aggressive.”

Cleveland Cavaliers Rookie Collin Sexton

Collin is coming to a team that saw its best player leave in free agency. Despite this, Collin is ready to step up and give the people of Cleveland someone new to root for. “Each and every game, I’m going to bring that energy, that same grit – I’m just going to go out there and play my hardest.” In college Collin earned the reputation as someone who was going to bring it every night. He was a dogged defender who harassed the opposing team’s guards all over the floor. On offense his speed and quickness allowed him to get to the rim with ease while also opening up easy shots for his teammates. Cavalier’s fans hope that tenacity and ferociousness will carry their team back to the playoffs.

Miles could have left Michigan State after his freshman season, but stayed because he felt he had unfinished business. By returning for his sophomore season, he showed the previous year’s achievements were no fluke. A versatile wing with through the-roof-hops, a buttery stroke, and the ability to defend multiple positions, Miles is ready to terrify opponents on both ends of the court. He’s hoping, that by bringing a winning attitude and a lot of energy, he can help Charlotte get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2016 which would surely excite the fan base. “Fans can expect intensity and a lot of energy – I like to get the crowd going and just do anything to win.”

Memphis Grizzlies Rookie Jaren Jackson Jr.

Their passion and love for basketball all began when they young. As kids all three would tear through the Eastbay magazine looking at all the new shoe releases. Collin said, “I couldn’t wait to see what was new so I could see if my parents would buy me one of the shoes.” Collin also played in the Eastbay X Ballislife All-American Game with Miles. Miles described going from that game to becoming one of cover athletes of Eastbay as a “dream come true,” and Jaren said the experience was “mind-blowing.” It’s been a remarkable ride for these rookies who are now competing against the very best players.

With their incredible work ethic and intense dedication, there are no limits to how good they can be.

Get A Backstage Pass To Pro Football’s Biggest Scouting Event

Get A Backstage Pass To Pro Football’s Biggest Scouting Event

Live From Indy 1

If your favorite pro football team is going to take that next step in 2018, it starts here: in Indianapolis. Starting Feb. 27, the top prospects from this year’s rookie class will compete in the biggest workouts of their lives. Records will be broken and draft stock will soar. You won’t want to miss out on any of the week’s action, and neither do we — that’s why we’ll be on the ground floor, providing you with a behind-the-scenes look at what the week’s biggest names are up to.

Here’s how, why, and where you can follow us. You won’t want to miss a second:

Tune In On Social

Preview Indy Story 2

Our Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat channels will be busy all week long so make sure to follow us. Our stories and feeds will be full of live, exclusive coverage from the hundreds of prospects cycling through. This is your backstage pass to Indy – we’re the only place you’ll learn who is the perfect fit for your squad while also learning who is best at Pop-A-Shot.

Exclusive Stories And Interviews

Wanna go in-depth with the week’s biggest stars?  Then make sure to check out: blog.eastbay.com/live-from-indy/. That location will be your best friend for the week.  From exclusive interviews with top prospects to daily photo slideshows to game room updates, this hub will house all the content you need to get a full VIP experience.

Our Special Guest

Our lineup in Indy got a lot stronger thanks to our special guest Mat, or as football fans know him: I Know Football. The YouTube star and football expert will be joining us, interacting directly with the players and breaking down the week’s events through video posts. Make sure to follow him on his IG and TW channels too.

 


So before things kick off, we also want to hear from you — who do you want us to talk to? What do you want us to ask them? Let us know in the comments. We’ll see you next week.

2018 Rookie Class: 6 Players To Watch In Indy

2018 Rookie Class: 6 Players To Watch In Indy

Eastbay is going to be on the scene in Indy next week, taking in all the action from pro football’s biggest scouting event and interviewing many of the year’s biggest names. We know you’ll be tuned in to the action as well, so before the 40-yard dash whistle blows and press conference cameras start rolling, two of Eastbay’s writers, Chris Wolff and Jake Zipperer, had a discussion about the names you need to pay attention to this year.

 

Jake: Alright Chris, in about a week, we’ll be on the ground in Indy, interviewing some of the biggest names of the 2018 rookie class. But before everything gets underway, let’s take a second to talk about some of the players we’re most excited to see this weekend. So, I’ll let you start — who’s the first guy that you’ll be looking out for?

Chris: It has to be a quarterback, right? That’s the talk of the draft this year with a stacked class that includes Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, and Lamar Jackson. I’m most excited to see Josh Allen, the Wyoming prospect who seems to be one of the draft’s biggest wild cards.

He has the prototypical QB frame at 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, and a cannon of an arm. His numbers didn’t jump off the page last season with just 1,812 yards, 16 touchdowns and a 56.3% completion percentage, but he has all the physical tools that scouts look for. This weekend will be an opportunity for him to showcase his skill set and stand out against some of his fellow projected first round QBs.

Is there another QB that stands out to you or are you looking elsewhere?

Jake: Yep, Allen is the definition of a boom-or-bust pick, but tons of teams will fall in love with his potential. I could talk about the QBs in this class all day, but figured I’d throw in a curveball and highlight a RB: Rashaad Penny.

He’s the type of player who’s hard to get a read on at this point in the process. It may be impossible to be any more productive than he was last season (2,248 rushing yards, 23 touchdowns), but his team at San Diego State wasn’t exactly facing the Alabama’s and the Georgia’s of the world week after week. It’s the classic ‘is the small school guy going to be able to adjust to the speed and talent of the pro game’ dilemma. If I had to guess, I’d say Penny can make the jump — he’s a quick, shifty back who can gain yardage in a variety of ways. Oh, and he can return! This weekend will go a long way toward deciding his draft stock.

Who’s the next guy on your list? Got a prediction on who will post that ridiculous 40 time?

Chris: If we’re talking about running backs, we have to mention Saquon Barkley.

I don’t know how fast his 40 time will be, but the Penn State star captured the attention of the entire college football world this season with more than his fair share of jaw-dropping plays. He’s a do-it-all back that can pound the rock (three straight 1,000 yard rushing seasons), catch the ball out of the backfield (54 catches for 632 yards this year), and hit homeruns (23 total touchdowns this year, including two return touchdowns). We saw a resurgence of first-round running backs last season with Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey, and Saquan Barkley is poised to join that list. He’s full of talent, built for today’s pass-heavy offenses, and will make an instant impact next year. The only question is how high will he go in a draft class full of stars?

Let’s switch to the other side of the ball — what defensive prospects will you have your eyes on?

Jake: To me, the name to watch on defense is Tremaine Edmunds from Virginia Tech.

He’s just such a unique player. Edmunds is so tall for a linebacker (6’5″), and he’s freakishly fast and strong. Athletes like him don’t come around very often, and when they do, they usually post some ridiculous testing scores in Indy. But more importantly than test scores, he’s the ideal type of linebacker for modern defenses. Fast enough to cover RBs and TEs, powerful enough to generate a consistent pass rush, and aggressive enough to never give up on a play — he can do it all. Defensive coordinators have to be salivating at the idea of having Edmunds as the centerpiece of their defense.

But that’s a name I’m sure many people will be watching closely — Chris, do you have any dark horses that you think will take scouts and GMs by surprise?

Chris: Everybody’s always looking for steals, and this is the perfect time for teams to start identifying guys that they might be able to get in the later rounds. Josey Jewell is a guy who’s projected to go on day three of the draft, but I think he’s going to end up being a valuable piece for some team.

He doesn’t have the same elite athleticism and explosiveness as some of this year’s deep linebacker group, but he can flat out play football. He lead the Big Ten in tackles, racked up 13.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and 2 interceptions at Iowa this year. He’s proven his productivity on the field at the college level, so this weekend will be important for him to show scouts that he has the physical abilities to continue that at the next level. He might slip due to his deep position class and lack of flash, but someone’s going to get a steal and a guy who can be a starting linebacker in the league for a long time.

Alright, let’s get to your final one. Does anyone in the secondary stand out to you?

Jake: Well, versatile defensive backs are all the rage in pro football nowadays and Florida State safety Derwin James fits that to a T.

In fact, it’s probably unfair of me to call him a safety. He has the insane athleticism, solid tackling prowess, and alpha-dog mindset needed to be a true chess piece for creative defenses. You want him to line up near the line of scrimmage as a hybrid backer? No problem. He can do that, he can play deep safety, he can play cover corner. I can’t wait to see what his 40 time is and I can’t wait to see how he’s used in a smart defensive scheme in the pros.

 


There will be a lot of great prospects in Indy this year, but make sure to keep your eyes on these six players. Do you agree? Disagree? Hit us up in the comments with your own opinion and make sure to stay locked in to Eastbay’s IG account and our Live Content Hub for a backstage pass to all of the action in Indy.