Daily workouts are hardly new to Zack Rosen.
Spending hours in the gym, working on strength and agility and honing his jump shot have been staples to his routine for years. What has changed is, unlike over the past four years, Rosen does not know where he will be playing next season, or even next week.
“There’s so much uncertainty for the first time in your life,” Rosen said. “You know you’re going to be somewhere, but you don’t know where that somewhere is going to be.”
With just over a week until the NBA Draft, Rosen’s schedule revolves around a flurry of workouts with NBA squads. Last week, the recently graduated point guard traveled to Phoenix and Detroit in the span of five days in order to work out with the teams.
“Basically, you live out of a suitcase, and you live on your phone, hearing what’s going on and where you’re off to next literally by the day,” Rosen said. “You stay close to an airport.”
Unanimously selected as Ivy League Player of the Year, Rosen has not appeared on many NBA mock draft boards. However, at the New Jersey Nets combine Rosen recorded the fastest three-fourths court sprint time of the day at 3.18 seconds, which is just .02 seconds slower than the best mark in the draft, run by Harrison Barnes. The stat may be exactly what Rosen needs to respond to concerns about his athleticism, as well as garner some additional attention from teams before the draft on June 28.
In fact, the result even surprised Rosen, though he does not regard it as an end to scouts’ scrutiny or criticisms.
“They question my size now — I’m not big enough,” Rosen said. “There’s always going to be something, and it’s really a process of not getting bogged down or really not even listening.”
While scouts are quick to question his physical attributes, Rosen has received praise for his vision, leadership and his feel for the game, or the “ability to recognize the right play and make that play consistently,” as Rosen put it.
Having completed workouts with the Nets, Rockets, Suns and Pistons thus far, Rosen plans to also play for the Bulls, Kings and Timberwolves prior to the draft.
Some of the aforementioned teams have picks late in the second round, when Rosen is most likely to be picked up, but for other teams, that is not the case. For instance, the Suns only have the 13th pick of the first round, where Rosen will almost certainly not be selected. However, for Rosen this does not eliminate the chance of being drafted by that team, due to the unpredictability of draft day.
He pointed out that Penn coach Jerome Allen was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves, despite never talking with the team, let alone working out for them.
“You don’t know what’s going to happen until draft day,” Rosen said.
Since graduating in May, Rosen has continued to develop his tactical knowledge of the game, as well as his offensive repertoire. By watching game footage of players like Steve Nash and Erik Maynor, Rosen has become a student of the pick and roll. In the gym, he has worked on adding a floater to his arsenal.
“The GM of the Mavericks said [the floater] was the game changer for [J.J.] Barea and Nash,” Rosen said. “Once I get that it will really open up the game a lot more, so it’s something I’ve been working on tirelessly.”
If Rosen is not selected in the NBA Draft, then he will likely join a summer league team and attempt to make an NBA roster by being signed as a free agent.
An Ivy League education and an NBA career rarely go hand-in-hand, but Rosen is confident in his ability to play the game. Perhaps, like Harvard graduate Jeremy Lin, he just needs a chance to prove himself on the big stage.
“I think I bring a lot to the table. It’s just a matter of someone believing that same thing,” Rosen said.