In clever preparation for the NBA feet-grinder he'll face a few months hence, Wayman Tisdale has practiced what pro basketball players seem to do best. He's traveled.
"I've done a lot of it," said Tisdale, who announced May 4 that he would bypass his senior basketball season at Oklahoma and enter the pro draft June 18. "I've been to California, I went to Indiana last week, I went to New York for the lottery. Ever since I've been out of school I've just been traveling. Traveling's all right, I guess. I'm pretty used to it now. I'm ready."
But he will be nervous entering his first pro season just as he was three years ago, entering OU as a highly-recruited prospect out of Tulsa Washington High School.
"I'm pretty sure I will have the jitters," Tisdale said. "I'm not saying I won't. But I like the jitters. I like a challenge."
Tisdale's biggest challenge now involves patience, as the NBA draft is almost three weeks away. The New York Knicks will choose first and take Georgetown center Patrick Ewing. Picking next, in order, will be the Indiana Pacers and the Los Angeles Clippers.
While Tisdale has visited with Pacer officials, they haven't said he will be their first draft selection.
"It's still between Indiana and the L.A. Clippers," Tisdale said.
"The Pacers haven't said they'd pick me for sure yet. I guess that's surprising, but I can wait.
"I can understand why they'd hesitate, because Indiana needs a center. I can understand why they say they don't need another power forward because they already have three power forwards."
Tisale denied talk that he might, ala John Elway and Bernie Kosar, test the NBA in court if he was dissatisfied with the team which drafted him.
"No, I haven't looked into that," Tisdale said. "Whoever chooses me right now, I'll be happy."
Then again, "Happy" might just as well be Tisdale's middle name.
He seldom seems to be anything but happy. There have been rough times, however. Especially early this month, while deciding whether to turn pro or stay collegiate.
One of the biggest reasons Tisdale had a tough time deciding was the adulation shown by OU fans. Tisdale has virtually become a folk hero in the Sooner state.
But there were other reasons why the decision-making was difficult.
"There was also the fact that we have a Final Four team coming back next year and have a good coaching staff," Tisdale said. "It was a very hard decision, but I think the decision is what I wanted to do. It was something I wanted to do and I feel that it's the best thing to do."
Any second thoughts?
"Oh, no. I'm pretty happy with the decision," he said.
He is less than happy with opinions that he had reached a decision before his junior season ended at the NCAA Midwest Regional finals in Dallas.
"I didn't have my mind made up," he said. "I was going to stay at OU until a couple of days before I had to make the announcement. The whole time before that I thought I'd stay. I was just really weighing my options day by day until I had to make a definite decision. So, it could have gone either way until just about the last minute."
Though at least one reason for turning pro call it dollar signs is obvious and understandable, Tisdale remains somewhat mysterious as to other reasons.
"There were a number of them," he said, "and I really wouldn't know how to comment on that. I don't want to say the wrong thing. The possibility of injury was one of them, with the style of defense thrown at me. But there were a lot of reasons."
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