Exercise after exercise in metropolis after metropolis, Justin Lewis has welcomed the grind as he will get nearer to realizing his dream.
In preparation of the 2022 NBA draft, set to happen Thursday night time on the Barclays Middle in Brooklyn, New York, the previous Poly and Marquette basketball star attended the NBA scouting mix final month in Chicago and has since labored out for greater than a dozen franchises.
For the 20-year-old Lewis, who declared for the draft after his sensational sophomore season at Marquette, this demanding time has been a labor of affection.
“My method has simply been to assault every exercise as they arrive and simply get higher and have enjoyable after I do them,” he mentioned. “My love for the sport helps me assault every day. It’s a tricky course of and my pleasure for the sport helps me get higher and I simply maintain attempting to achieve completely different objectives in my life.”
One among his greatest objectives going again to his childhood days is taking part in within the NBA, and he’s on the verge of constructing it occur. As a sophomore at Marquette, the 6-foot-7, 240-pound ahead averaged a team-high 16.8 factors and seven.9 rebounds and was named Huge East Most Improved Participant and an All-Huge East first-team choice.
He mentioned the work he put in going into the season and the numerous strides he made throughout it pushed him to show professional. Nationwide specialists have him going wherever from the late first spherical to the center of the second in mock drafts.
Thursday night time can’t come quickly sufficient for the Baltimore native.
“Now, the dream is nearly a actuality,” Lewis mentioned. “I don’t even know the way to clarify it — simply an thrilling feeling to lastly see the work I’ve put in and the issues I’ve completed over all of the years are beginning to come in useful. It’s simply thrilling and it makes me need extra as a result of I really feel the sky’s the restrict proper now.”
Marquette coach Shaka Good, who guided the Golden Eagles to a 19-13 mark in his first season, mentioned Lewis’ development as a participant and individual previously yr places him on an incredible trajectory to make the leap to the NBA.
“What I instructed him and inform all the blokes that undergo the method is subsequent Thursday is simply step one,” Good mentioned throughout a information convention final Wednesday at Marquette. “It’s an enormous step, but it surely’s a scenario the place now it’s, ‘OK, I discovered the place I’m going, who I’m taking part in for and now it’s time to proceed that trajectory.’
“I’m excited for him. If you get to that stage, clearly, the competitors goes up, the expectations go up. He’s going to have a studying curve like anybody else, however he’s an incredible man who has actually grown. He’s very motivated, he’s been working his butt off, so I’m excited to observe what’s subsequent for him.”
In his highschool years — first as a freshman at Calvert Corridor, then his final three at Poly — Lewis confirmed his potential with a mixture of measurement, talent and recreation sense. Former Poly coach Sam Model noticed one thing else in Lewis that went past the courtroom.
“I might inform he actually wished to be good,” Model mentioned. “I believe loads of guys which can be tall play basketball and follow basketball as a result of they’re simply tall and other people need them to play. However Justin beloved the sport. He beloved getting ready, he was at all times right here early.
“One of many separators that I noticed early is I might inform he simply loved being within the gymnasium. He appreciated to compete, he appreciated to follow and get photographs up. He has the love for it and in case you have the bodily functionality and the love, that’s what any coach goals of.”
Throughout Lewis’ time at Poly, the Engineers have been the workforce to beat within the Baltimore Metropolis league. He helped make them two state titles (2017-18, 2018-19) and a 3rd was seemingly earlier than COVID-19 shut down his senior season earlier than the state semifinal spherical. Lewis was named The Baltimore Solar’s 2019-20 All-Metro co-Participant of the 12 months after averaging 19.3 factors and 13.4 rebounds per recreation.
Level guard Rahim Ali, who assisted on most of the 1,374 profession factors Lewis scored at Poly, acquired a first-hand have a look at the fervour his shut good friend has for the sport of basketball.
“He’s blessed to be one of many ones to make it, and that’s nice as a result of he’s a particular individual and every part that was meant for him is coming to him. It’s great,” Ali mentioned. “He loves the sport. You’ll be able to inform when someone is faking it and being actual about it, and he actually loves it.”
Lewis credit the powerful grind and pleasure that’s hooked up to Baltimore basketball as a key think about his drive to succeed. The traits go all over the place he goes.
“It has formed me into the participant I’m,” he mentioned. “Seeing the toughness of all the blokes earlier than me and studying from them and simply taking part in within the metropolis league, you bought to be powerful. So I’d say it helped me each mentally and bodily.”
In rising because the Golden Eagles’ major scoring possibility final season, Lewis displayed versatility — together with an improved bounce shot and deal with to go together with his established put up play — that makes him an intriguing NBA prospect. His size and talent to change on protection is one other asset.
Lewis goes into Thursday night time’s draft with self-confidence that’s a product of the work he has put in, but in addition with an understanding that there’s a lot extra to study.
“I’m getting criticized for sure issues in my recreation proper now however I do know I’ll work on these issues to get higher,” he mentioned. “So it’s thrilling greater than it’s getting down on myself as a result of I do know I’ll assault throughout the offseason and get higher at these issues.”
2022 NBA DRAFT
Barclays Middle, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
TV: ESPN, Chs. 2, 7