by Gery Woelfel
As one of the youngest players in the NBA last season, it was a foregone conclusion Rashad Vaughn would have a roller-coaster season.
And the Milwaukee Bucks’ now 19-year-old shooting guard did. Regarded as one of the premier shooters entering the 2015 draft, Vaughn struggled to get comfortable with the longer, NBA 3-point line (29 percent) and going against older, stronger and more experienced players.
But the 6-foot-6 Vaughn also played in 70 games, six of which were starts, and flashed glimpses of his potential. He said he is committed to becoming more of a factor with the Bucks next season.
The soft-spoken and unfailingly polite Vaugh discussed his trying rookie season and offered up advice to players now in college who are thinking about being early-entry NBA draft candidates:
You made the decision to leave UNLV after just one season? Now that you’ve played one full season in the NBA, do you have any regrets, any second-thoughts?
RV: “No. None at all. It’s been a great experience for me. Going through my first NBA season, there were a lot of ups and downs but, for the most part, it was a blessing.’’
What surprised you the most about playing in the NBA? Was there anything that caught you off guard?
RV: “Just everything. The travel, the intensity of the game, the speed of the game, practices, the schedule, playing against the best players in the world every night … But I adjusted. I kept learning along the way. I learned that you always got to bring it every night.’’
You certainly went through the typical rookie growing pains and had some rough moments. On the flip side, what did you consider your fondest moment during your rookie season?
RV: “When we played Kobe (Bryant). Just to meet him and then to have the opportunity to play against him, that was definitely a memorable moment for me. Kobe was somebody I looked up to basketball-wise since I was a kid. And just going the season, all the ups and downs.’’
What’s on your summer agenda?
RV: “Just work. Work all summer. Like I said, I had a lot of ups and downs last season and I want to come back better, stronger and be ready to contribute more to the team.’’
Having confidence is critical for any player, but especially for a young player like yourself. Did you gain more confidence as the season progressed?
RV: Yeah, definitely. My teammates and coaches, they constantly kept helping me out, constantly giving me more confidence as the season went on.’’
Was there anyone who took you under his wing and offered guidance and encouragement?
RV: “There were so many people who did that, from the young guys to the older guys. Everybody helped me out and took me under their wing.’’
What were your perceptions of Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo, two young players like yourself who are the cornerstones of the franchise?
RV: “Great leaders for the team. Great players. They are two people who took me under their wing and helped me out throughout the season and I got to build a good relationship with them.’’
What would you tell someone who is in college now and thinking of turning pro? And what would you tell them to do to be prepared for the NBA?
RV: “Just stay as focused as much as possible. It’s a process, from the schedule, to practices, to not playing as much as you are used to. So, really, just focus in on what you need to do and try to learn as much as possible and realize that everything takes time.’’
I get the distinction impression that you’re pretty psyched up about next season already?
RV: “For sure. I want to really work on my game this summer and be prepared for next season. I can’t wait for next season.’’