ST. FRANCIS, Wis. — There are two groups of players at an NBA draft workout. The first group are the ones the team is really looking at, players who know they are going to be drafted and playing somewhere in the league next season.
Group two fill out the workout and have no idea what their future holds. For them, a workout with a NBA team is a chance to show enough to catch on with a summer league team.
Former Marquette point guard Junior Cadougan is in the second group. His chances of being drafted are slim to none. It’s something he understands, but as someone who has fought for everything his entire career, Cadougan isn’t going to stop chasing his dream of playing professional basketball.
“I’m going to play professionally somewhere,” Cadougan said. “After I play basketball, I have a diploma, so you never know what could happen. I’d love to coach one day, too.”
The Milwaukee Bucks — along with the majority of NBA teams — like to bring in former players from local colleges and high schools to help them have enough numbers to fill the workout. When Cadougan worked out for the Bucks on May 21, Milwaukee was looking at wing players, so they needed two guys to pass them the ball.
“It was a good workout,” Cadougan said. “I had fun with the guys. I got to talk with (former Syracuse forward) James Southerland, talk a little Big East basketball. I told him I was real upset with him and that I want to beat him up right now because Syracuse ended my career.”
Despite two former collegiate rivals working out on the same floor, there was no bad blood.
“We had a heck of a rivalry going on for the past four years,” Southerland said. “They got the best of us, but we got the last win so that’s all that matters.
“Junior is a great player. I think he has one of the most explosive first steps that I’ve ever seen. It’s great to see another Big East guy here working out with me.”
Bucks director of scouting Billy McKinney has been watching Cadougan play from the time he was on the U-18 Canadian national team through his time at Marquette. After the workout, McKinney said Cadougan needs his shot to improve, something the point guard agrees with.
“I felt like I was a bit passive,” Cadougan said. “The shots that I took weren’t great shots because of hesitation. I’ve been working on my shot and I feel like it will come.”
Just two days prior to his workout with the Bucks, Cadougan experienced one of the most important days of his life: graduation day. Graduating is a big deal for anybody, but for a kid Marquette coach Buzz Williams joked couldn’t even spell Marquette when he arrived on campus, it meant so much more.
“Graduation was big time,” Cadougan said. “I had a long day with the university ceremony at the Bradley Center and then back to the Al McGuire Center for my ceremony. At first while it was going on, I was falling asleep. I was texting. Man, this feeling is nothing.
“When I got up and the closer I got to the stage, that’s when my emotions started coming out. Tears started coming out because I realized this is big time. I’m graduating from Marquette. It’s great. It was a great feeling.”
The moment was emotional because his time at Marquette truly impacted his life in a positive manner.
“A changed man, really,” Cadougan said. “Work ethic, how I talk to people, my work ethic in school, my dieting. Before I got to Marquette I was eating junk food, McDonald’s and all that. Now I’m eating vegetables and cook food. I’m just a changed man in general. It’s a sign of maturity.”
Cadougan graduated from Marquette by earning it the hard way. He became one of the best point guards in the Big East through hard work and perseverance. It’s easy to say Cadougan won’t last long in professional basketball, but it’s really hard to count him out.
Former Marquette star Wesley Matthews has reached out to Cadougan, telling him that this can be done. Matthews went undrafted after his time at Marquette and now has established himself in the NBA.
“I feel like to be unknown, you just have to stay with that edge, that mentality to work hard,” Cadougan said. “You are going to have opportunities that come, you just have to take advantage and keep on working hard.”