After averaging 16 points and leading OU to its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2009, Romero Osby was selected 51st overall this year by the Orlando Magic. He began his pro career this week at the Orlando Pro Summer League, where he averaged 11 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 21.2 minutes.
Following his final performance on Friday — a 14-point, three-rebound, two-assist, four-steal effort — Osby spoke to The Oklahoman about the start of his NBA journey and his accomplishments at OU.
Q: How would you sum up this summer league experience, your first action as an NBA player?
A: It was great. I got a chance to play with some guys that’s been in the league for a year or two. I got a chance to be around some veteran coaches and play against some great competition so it was an awesome experience. I’m glad I got a chance to experience it. I’m just waiting to see what happens next.
Evaluate your performance. How do you think you did this week?
I think I played pretty good. You know me. I’m always on myself about stuff. I can’t say I did everything right because I didn’t. It’s a lot of things I still can get better at and am going to continue to get better at. But overall I give myself a C. I feel like I still have a lot of room to grow. I could have done a lot of things better. But for my first time being in an NBA setting and nobody expected me to be here I think I did pretty well.
Your energy and hustle really stood out. Do you feel like you were able to use those things to impress the coaches and general managers in the gym?
Yeah, I think so. I came in every day and played hard and fought my tail off. I think sometimes I get so emotional out there and enthusiastic and I go so hard that sometimes I let it get the best of me. It’s not to the point where I’m getting a technical foul. But that’s something I’ve got to continue to gather in because I’m going to be a rookie and rookies don’t get foul calls in this league. You got to work for it.
What position do you see yourself as? How do you see yourself fitting in at this level?
Well, it’s whatever coach wants me to do. I know with me being a little bit undersized it puts me in the category of like a Shawn Marion. I can guard 3s and 4s with my athleticism and strength and quickness. That could be real beneficial. So that’s something I want to bring to the table. Offense will come. I just want to continue to get better on the defensive end of the court and bring that energy every day.
What has general manager Rob Hennigan and coach Jacque Vaughn told you about what they expect?
They expect me to do what I’ve been doing, bring that energy, bring that intensity. Always come out and fight every night on both ends of the floor. As long as I’m doing that I think I’ll be fine.
What was it like to be a part of the rebuilding process at OU?
It was great. It was tough sitting out. That year I sat out we weren’t really good. And then my junior year we were a lot better, but it was coach Kruger’s first year so we were just on the cusp. We weren’t really where we wanted to be. But for my last year, and for it to be my senior year, I worked as hard as I worked and my teammates worked as hard as they worked so we could get back to the NCAA tournament and help coach Kruger get to his fifth NCAA tournament. That was really big for me and for everybody that was involved. So I was happy to be a part of that.
Where do see the program going now?
They’re going to be the sleeper right now because they don’t have the Andrew Wiggins’ or the Marcus Smarts right now. But it’s a lot of good players on that team, and we got an outstanding coaching staff and a support system behind them. So I know that they’re going to do well. Hopefully they continue to go to NCAA tournaments and go deeper and deeper in the tournament.
Now you’re in Orlando with another young group, another rebuilding group. Talk about some of the young talent on this Magic team and what you guys are trying to build here.
We got some really good young talent. A lot of enthusiastic guys, athletic guys. Like you said, we’re young. I’m 23. I’m probably one of the oldest guys. Having that and be able to rebuild and continue to be able to bring more and more young talent in, the sky’s the limit I think. But this is a man’s league. It’s hard to say just because a couple of players come in the team is going to be that much better. So you just got to come out there and fight every day. It’s kind of like the bamboo tree. They say the bamboo tree you water it for five years and you don’t see growth until five years. Not saying it’s going to take us five years, but we just got to continue to invest and we may not see the results at the beginning but it’ll definitely come.