It wasn’t even lunch time and Trail Blazers rookie C.J. McCollum was already exhausted.
Monday was McCollum’s first full day in Portland after he was selected 10th overall in the NBA draft some 11 days before. He was up at 5 a.m., had a workout an hour later and then headed to the Rose Garden for an introductory news conference. Along the way, his necktie was misplaced.
Welcome to the NBA.
“This is what I’ve lived for, this is what I want to do for a living,” he said, smiling despite the whirlwind. “It feels good that it’s finally here.”
McCollum averaged 23.9 points and 5.0 rebounds per game last season as a senior at Lehigh. While his year was cut short by a broken left foot, the 6-foot-3 guard said he’s fully healed and he was cleared to play in April.
McCollum was targeted on draft night by the Blazers, who were looking to shore up a backcourt led by reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard.
“It’s always good to get the guy you want,” coach Terry Stotts said.
McCollum, the Patriot League’s all-time leading scorer, said he worked to hone his reputation as a versatile shooter to make up for his smaller stature.
“I knew being a 5-foot-11 spot-up shooter wasn’t going to get me anywhere, being a 5-foot-11 true point guard wasn’t going to get me anywhere in high school so I developed a different arsenal of moves and the ability to create a shot,” he said. “That was what was going to get me to this moment right here.”
But McCollum realizes he’s going to have to develop in new ways now that he’s in the NBA.
“Coach will tell you, he doesn’t care too much if you’re knocking down 3s if you’re giving up 3s and lay-ups,” he said.
Stotts interrupted: “I like making 3s though.”
Over his four-year Lehigh career, McCollum averaged 21.3 points and 6.3 rebounds, and he shot 38 percent from 3-point range.
He’ll sport the No. 3 jersey for the Blazers. He’s worn the number since middle school because he was a big fan of Allen Iverson, who also overcame his size by being an electric shooter.
On the Blazers’ roster for the upcoming NBA Summer League, McCollum will start practicing with the team on Tuesday, joining Lillard and fellow draft pick Allen Crabbe, a guard out of Cal. The group’s first game will be on Saturday in Las Vegas.
McCollum’s introduction follows a busy free agency period for the Blazers.
Portland agreed to contracts this weekend with free agents Dorell Wright, a small forward who played last for the Philadelphia 76ers, and Earl Watkins, a veteran guard from the Utah Jazz.
The Blazers also were involved in a three-team trade with New Orleans and Sacramento that sent guard Tyreke Evans to the Pelicans, center Robin Lopez to the Trail Blazers and guard Greivis Vasquez to the Kings.
Portland also sent second-round draft pick Jeff Withey to New Orleans and a future draft pick to Sacramento as part of the deal.
When free agency opened last weekend, Portland acquired 6-foot-10 forward Thomas Robinson from the Houston Rockets in exchange for a pair of future draft picks, and the draft rights to Kostas Papanikolau and Marko Todorovic.
People close to the negotiations confirmed the deals, but spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because contracts cannot be formalized until the end of the free agency moratorium on Wednesday.
With the exception of Lopez, who will likely start, the moves were generally lauded as adding depth to Portland’s bench. The Blazers lacked depth last season when they lost their last 13 games to finish 33-49 and out of the playoffs for the second straight season.