Germany's Dennis Schroeder said he has dreamed of someday playing in the NBA since he was 11 years old, which dates all the way back to 2005.
While most foreign teenagers wisely sharpen their skills overseas before venturing to play basketball in America, the 19-year-old Schroeder is ready to plunge at the game's most demanding position.
“I made a promise to my dad that one day I want to reach the NBA,” Schroeder said. “Hopefully, it will come true. I work for it every day.”
As for when Schroeder will be picked in the June 27 draft, projections range from No. 12 (HoopsHype.com) to No. 29 (CBSSports.com), and both those picks belong to the Thunder.
If OKC reserve guard Reggie Jackson were to excel and price himself out of an affordable contract extension, Schroeder could evolve into Russell Westbrook's backup.
The 6-foot-2, 168-pound Schroeder currently is a score-first guard, but could easily transition to a set-up man thanks to an ability to blow by his defender and force opponents to help contain him, which would leave teammates open.
Schroeder started his ascent up the draft board in April during the Nike Hoop Summit at Portland, which featured top American high-school seniors against a World Select Team of prospects age 19 and younger.
“Consistently able to freeze his defender with a hesitation move before exploding past him to the rim, Schroeder has been a handful for the other guards in attendance,” Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com wrote at the time. “Playing pesky, full-court defense, knocking down a number of jump shots, and looking great in the open floor as well, Schroeder is leaving a lasting impression with his play here in Portland. With (Oklahoma State's) Marcus Smart returning to school and a notable void after the top tier of point guard prospects in the 2013 draft at the moment, Schroeder could look to fill that gap.”
When Schroeder skipped drills at last month's Chicago pre-draft combine due to “tooth pain,” it prompted speculation Schroeder already had received a first-round promise, which equates to denying other teams a chance to evaluate him.
The strongest rumors have that promise coming from the Boston Celtics, who own the No. 16 pick.
“Nobody has talked to me,” Schroeder told the Racine (Wis.) Journal Times. “I'm just hoping to go in the first round.”
Schroeder's agent, Alex Saratsis, also discredited the claim.
“I don't know where that came from,” he said. “I don't know anything about that.”
Not-so-coincidentally, Schroeder has been compared to the Celtics' Rajon Rondo, and also to Darren Collison of the Dallas Mavericks.
“I play like him a little bit,” Schroeder said of Rondo. “He's got defense, too. He's got the long arms. After the pick-and-roll, he finds the open guy. I've seen a lot of NBA games. I've seen him. I've seen Chris Paul, everybody who's got a good point guard.”
Though still learning English, Schroeder expresses himself well, but critics claim he needs to communicate better on the court.
Despite growing up thousands of miles away, Schroeder obviously paid close attention to the game. While discussing Paul, he referred to Paul's days in New Orleans with Tyson Chandler.
Though it's extremely doubtful Schroeder will play anything more than a reserve role as a rookie, opinions vary on how well-prepared he is for the NBA.
“I've played two years now against men,” Schroeder said, “so I think that will help me a lot to get ready for the NBA.”
12 for No. 12
As part of the James Harden trade with Houston last October, the Thunder obtained the No. 12 overall selection in the June 27 NBA Draft via Toronto. We look at 12 potential candidates the Thunder might consider taking with that No. 12 pick.
Today: German point guard Dennis Schroeder.