Carrick Felix captivated the Arizona State staff and, in time, the rest of the Pac-12 conference with his athleticism, his commitment to defense, his leadership and his subjugation of self in a breakout senior season, one he dedicated to his baby girl.
NBA scouts have seen the same thing.
Maybe it was Felix’s commitment to conditioning that has dropped his body fat to a reported 3.3 percent this spring.
Maybe it was his clutch 3-point shooting at a scouts-only scrimmage for draft candidates in New Jersey, a few weeks after he participated in a larger combine in Chicago.
Maybe it was his poised demeanor with team executives during round after round of interviews.
Whatever, Felix has presented himself so well in the months leading up to the NBA draft on Thursday that he seems a near-lock to be drafted, a year after he might well have been an afterthought.
Felix visited 17 teams in the run-up to the draft, and the consensus seems to be he will be selected in the second round. The Suns worked Felix out and spoke to him last weekend; they have the last pick of the first round, No. 30, and the 57th overall pick in the second round.
Felix would seem to be a good candidate for a team with a strong defensive bent, a team such as Chicago, perhaps. The Bulls have the 19th pick in the second round, the 49th overall pick.
“There has been some really good feedback,” ASU assistant coach Eric Musselman said. “He’s done an unbelievable job in his interviews. He’s been fabulous with his effort and his energy.
“They like him as a player who has upside.”
As the draft approaches, Felix’s feet remain firmly on the ground. He has four pictures in his twitter photo gallery, and none are of the thunderous slam dunks or high-wire-act blocked shots that caused Wells Fargo Arena to spontaneously erupt. There are three pictures of his daughter Zayah, now 1, and one of him sprawling on the court while trying to make a steal against Colorado.
Felix did not make himself available for interviews this week, but he said this in the preseason: “I want to make sure I can set an example for her so when she grows up she has the ground rules of where she came from.”
Felix, 6-foot-6 small forward, averaged 14.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shots per game this season, his first season as a grad student. He earned his degree in communications and in May completed his masters in liberal studies. It was also his first as a father. He said he drew motivation from Zayah, whose name that roughly translates into “victorious warrior.”
He led the Pac-12 with 13 double-doubles while earning a spot on the All-Pac-12 second team. He was a member of the league’s all-defensive team while averaging 37.7 minutes in league play, second. Felix was the runnerup in the Denny’s slam dunk championship held the weekend of the Final Four in Atlanta
Not bad for a player whose first sport of choice was skateboarding and who only turned to basketball as a freshman at Goodyear Millennium High.
Felix has used the interview process to demonstrate his knowledge of defense and defensive principles that were evident in the man-to-man scheme that ASU coach Herb Sendek used last season. He also appears to has conveyed to teams that he understands his role in a system and how he would fit into a team, one former NBA front office executive said.
“Whether he plays one minute or 40 minutes, his minutes are not going to dictate his attitude. That’s great for a coach,” the former executive said.