How Brandon Ingram and other top prospects plan to spend their last hours before the draft
Through the years, we've heard just how grueling the NBA Draft process can be, how the whirlwind of flights, workouts and interviews can, at times, feel never ending.
Yet while it's one thing to hear tall tales of pre-draft lore, it's quite another to be one of the select few fortunate enough to experience it.
In 2016, one of those select few is former Kentucky Wildcat Skal Labissiere, who told FOX Sports about the pre-draft process during a phone interview over the weekend.
This particular story starts with a half-asleep Labissiere desperately trying to get into his hotel room after another grueling workout and another tiring day of travel in pursuit of his NBA dream.
Skal Labissiere has had a lot of ups and downs during the draft process.
Just as an exhausted Labissiere began to lose his patience with the situation, he realized he had no one to blame but himself.
"There was one time the other day where I was trying to get into the hotel room and my key wouldn't work," Labissiere said with a laugh. "I was trying to figure out what was going on ... then I realized that I was using the wrong key, from a different hotel. I had just been putting the keys in my pocket, but it's probably time for me to get rid of some."
Labissiere's story is symbolic of just how crazy this process can be, a process which thankfully for both NBA fans and the sport's newest wave of soon-to-be millionaire stars will be coming to an end soon. The NBA Draft is just days away, and as we head toward the finish line, FOX Sports reached out to several top prospects, who revealed how they're spending their last few hours of relative anonymity before their lives change forever. We also asked them to reflect on the process that's led them to the point, to the precipice of reaching a lifelong dream.
When asked about the latter --- the entire process --- the one thing all the players agreed on was the time demands. It isn't just about one workout, one interview or one travel mishap, but how quickly the number of all three can add up over the weeks and months that lead up to the draft. Former Marquette forward Henry Ellenson said he was stuck in an airport for seven hours during a flight delay, and didn't arrive at his stop until well after midnight.
Former Duke star Brandon Ingram's most vivid memory of the draft process had nothing to do with basketball. For Ingram it came while working as a spokesperson for Speed Stick late last week. Ingram filmed his first commercial, which he said was fun, but the process of promoting it became exhausting in a way that basketball has never been.
"My craziest day (of the draft process) was the other day," Ingram said. "I had like 12 different interviews; radio, TV, podcasts, I shot a commercial. It was like 12 hours straight. It was just exhausting."
Yet as tiring as that was, it paled in comparison to the wildest day of Kris Dunn's pre-draft process. Dunn, who also took part in the same Speed Stick ad campaign as Ingram, had to fly cross country twice in one day.
Thankfully, that heavy travel load was for the best reason possible.
"It was my graduation day from Providence (College)," Dunn said. "I had a workout in the morning in California, and flew back (to Providence). I got to spend some time with family and then was on another flight back (to California). I was hopping all over the place, but it was a happy day."
Providence College's Kris Dunn has taken up golf during the final few days before the draft
Thankfully for the draft prospects FOX spoke to, the hard part is done and the fun part is about to begin: It's nearly time for the draft. All the traveling (except to New York for the big day) is complete, and all four players are now enjoying a little down time. While some like Ingram are already in New York, others are relaxing and not trying to think about how much their lives will soon change. For Labissiere, that means catching up on TV (his favorite show is "The Office"). For Dunn, it's taking part in his newest leisure activity: golf.
"I'm good at driving the ball," Dunn said with a laugh. "I hit one the other day 275. I don't do that on the regular but it felt good. My short game needs work though."
Ellenson too is an avid golfer, but admits that he has trouble hitting the ball straight (in his defense, it's tough finding clubs that fit someone who stands 6'11). He instead is hanging out by the water, returning to his hometown of Rice Lake, Wisc., over the weekend. There was jet skiing, swimming and a successful day of fishing.
Just not for Ellenson.
"I went out on the lake with my best friend, but I didn't really catch anything," he said. "The problem was, he was catching everything. Eventually, he let me reel one in. I'd like to think I get credit for an assist on that one."
Henry Ellenson spent plenty of time by the lake, in his wait until draft night.
Fishing was just a small diversion for Ellenson, who -- like the other prospects -- are trying to take their minds off the big day. While none of the four is taking this opportunity for granted, the quartet is starting to get anxious.
They do agree on one thing: When Adam Silver calls their respective names, it could get a bit emotional. It could get truly sentimental for Labissiere, whose family will be in attendance in New York on Thursday night, just a few years after an earthquake in their home of Haiti nearly took everything they had.
"Oh yeah, it's going to be emotional," Labissiere said. "This is what I've been dreaming of my whole life, and after everything we've been through, it's going to be special."
It also leads to the next question: Will there be tears?
"Oh, absolutely," Labissiere said with a laugh.
We have a feeling he won't be the only one with misty eyes come Thursday.