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Men’s Basketball: Dees doing in the hard way

Joshua Parrott • jparrott@theadvertiser.com • June 26, 2008  

Given the depth of this year’s talent pool, David Dees can live with the fact he will likely not be among the 60 players selected in tonight’s NBA draft. 

The recent UL graduate plans to watch the first "six or seven" picks tonight on TV. But the Ohio native will likely spend the rest of the night in the gym working on his game, focusing on eventually earning his own spot in the NBA.

"Getting drafted is something you dream about growing up playing basketball," said Dees, who has yet to pick an agent. "But I’m not really worried about not getting drafted. I have a couple of workouts (with pro teams) in July, and I have offers from teams in Europe on the table. I don’t mind going overseas. But that’s not my dream.

"My dream is to play in the NBA, whether it’s this year or next year."

Dees’ dream took a hit as a senior, one season after earning third team all-Sun Belt Conference honors and leading the Ragin’ Cajuns in five categories – including minutes per game (35.6) and points per game (17.4). With the emergence of freshmen Chris Gradnigo and Travis Bureau, Dees saw his playing time cut in half and his scoring dip to 7.9 points a game – the lowest of his collegiate career – as the Cajuns shared the SBC West Division title with Arkansas-Little Rock.

The second team preseason all-conference pick also sat out one game and had to deal with younger brother Stephen leaving the team in February for undisclosed reasons.

"It was a very difficult year for me personally," said Dees, who played his final two seasons at UL after transferring from Liberty (Va.) University. "My family went through a lot, and I usually take everything on my shoulders and don’t look for much help. I wasn’t performing as well as I should and was putting even more pressure on myself."

Although his production fell as a senior, Dees showed flashes of his old-scoring touch and finished with 1,502 career points. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound guard/forward used his post-up game, mid-range jumper and ability to get to the free-throw line to score a game-high 21 points against McNeese State. His versatile offensive game also sparked the Cajuns to victories against Arkansas State (17), Florida Atlantic (14) and Utah Valley State (20).

Ryan Blake, the assistant director of NBA scouting, said Dees has the talent to compete for a spot in the NBA Development League next season.

"He has shown a lot," said Ryan Blake, the assistant director of NBA scouting and son of longtime scout Marty Blake. "He’s not a great shooter but is tough and can get inside. He’s a guy who does not give up. He has a lot of natural ability and can play multiple positions."

Dees showcased his talents for his first two collegiate seasons at Liberty. As a freshman, he made an immediate impact, averaging 10.5 points in 33 games and being named to the all-Big South freshman team. He capped the season with a 22-point outing in a loss to top-ranked St. Joseph’s in the first round of the 2004 NCAA Tournament.

As a sophomore Dees upped his scoring to 16.2 points a game and collected first team all-conference honors. But Dees left Liberty at the end of the season for a chance to play on the same college team as his brother. He picked UL over Xavier and Butler and sat out the 2005-06 season per NCAA transfer rules.

After two seasons with the Cajuns, Dees is ready to start his pro career. His frustrating senior season, he said, helped him become a better player. He worked out last summer with former Ohio State standout Daequan Cook, a Dayton native who was drafted in the first round of last year’s draft by the Philadelphia 76ers and played with the Miami Heat. He also played summer-league basketball with former Ohio State guard Michael Redd, now one of the NBA’s top scorers with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Those past experiences continue to give Dees the confidence to pursue his dream of playing in the NBA – even if his journey has a short detour overseas.

"I do believe that my number will be called, and I will eventually get my shot in the NBA," Dees said. "I know in my heart that I can play and perform at that level. I just need to keep my tools sharpened and be ready when the opportunity is there."

Expect him to be in the gym tonight preparing for that chance.