CHICAGO – Marquis Teague has known the pressure of competing in the NCAA Final Four. Now, he is learning what it’s like to be working out and interviewing this week with NBA teams at the Chicago Combine.
“They’re both pressure, but this is way different,” Teague said. “This is about dealing with your life. This is your job now. You can’t play around now. I’ve had my brother (Atlanta guard Jeff Teague) in my ear telling me, ‘This is your career on the line. Take every moment seriously.’”
Teague or his agent, J.R. Hensley, have spoken with Cleveland, Phoenix, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Philadelphia and Miami. On Wednesday, Teague interviewed with Miami, Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Milwaukee.
“I’ve been getting a lot of good feedback from teams saying they’re interested,” Teague said. “I’m hearing I’m anywhere from 15 to 20.”
The teams are many, but Teague’s mission is always the same.
“Just showing that I can knock down shots. They just want to see consistency from me from outside,” he said. “That’s what I’ve been working on since I started these workouts. I’m in the gym two to three times a day getting up a bunch of shots, and I’ve been shooting the ball at a pretty high level and And in my workouts, I’m trying to stay vocal. Showing that I can be a vocal leader.”
Point guards run the shows, but they must also score at the professional level.
“Being a point guard in the league, you have to be able to knock down shots,” Teague said. “You don’t want guards to sag off you. Coaches don’t want players like that, guys that can’t make shots. I want to show I can knock down shots.
“The main thing in the NBA is pick and roll,” Teague added. “That’s what I did a lot in college. They say, just come off that, pick your spot and show you can knock down the shot. You show you can do that consistently and you’re going to play in the NBA. That’s about all they run now. You have to know how to run it and defend so I’m glad I got that experience at Kentucky. It got me prepared the best. That’s why I chose to go there. Coach Cal put us in a situation to help us get to the next level by putting us in an NBA kind of offense.”
The Kentucky factor is proving to be a huge component of this week’s combine. On Wednesday, all six former Cats converged on Anthony Davis’ hotel room to share laughs and catch up.
“We all talk about the workouts and what’s going to happen so you can prepare,” Teague said. “You can call one of your teammates who has already been to a workout with a team and find out what it’s like.”
That wealth of Kentucky talent, however, is also opening some doors for the six individual players.
“We all can dominate and score at will,” Teague said. “We all showed signs of that in practice. But we sacrificed for each other to win games and we were OK with that. We all had plenty of things we could have done like we did in high school if we had gone to a weaker school, but we all choose to play together so we could win a national championship.
“Now, I think it the transition will be a lot easier for me because I’ve already been playing with five pros,” Teague added. “I know how to play with great players and get them the ball. I think the transition is going to be smoother for me.”
How that transition plays out is anybody’s guess. Teague is projected in mock drafts somewhere between 15 and 25 with Memphis at No. 25 being the popular pick. Lurking at No. 26 are the Indiana Pacers.
“I would love to play for the hometown team,” Teague admitted. “I’ve thought about that and talked about that with my parents.”
To that end, Teague had to conduct his shooting drills Thursday mindful that numerous NBA legends and executives were seated nearby.
“You try not to focus on the crowd, but it’s hard not to look when you see Larry Bird sitting right now,” Teague said with a smile. “It’s hard not to glance over. You have to stay focused on your workout.”