Surrounded by the ever-present gaze of NBA personnel, Dallas Lauderdale concerned himself with just one thing while playing in the Portsmouth Invitational.
“I wasn’t really paying attention to that,” the former Ohio State forward told BuckeyeSports.com on Wednesday afternoon. “I would introduce myself and shake hands and then I kept it moving. I was just focused on my goals.”
At this stage in his career, a number of objectives could apply. After holding down a starting spot for the past three seasons, Lauderdale finds himself at a crossroads. A defensive standout who possesses a wingspan OSU assistant coach Jeff Boals termed “kind of freakish,” the forward is seeking his place in the big world outside of college.
Aside from the fact that it will likely be back on the hardwood in the near future, further details are sketchy right now at best.
“As of right now (my top goal is) just to get better every day,” Lauderdale said. “That’s my main goal, just be a better basketball player than I was the day before. That’s really what I’m focused on. I worked out today and got better today and my next focus is on working out tomorrow and getting better tomorrow. That’s it. That’s all I’m really doing.”
Lauderdale’s appearance in the annual tournament for college seniors marked the first for a Buckeye since Jamar Butler and Othello Hunter participated three seasons ago. In three games, Lauderdale averaged 7.0 rebounds, 6.3 points and 1.3 blocked shots per contest.
While in Portsmouth, Lauderdale started two of his team’s three games including the championship contest. He was credited with a three-point attempt, but the forward said that was a statistical error. It would have been his first such attempt since his OSU career began.
Although he did not make the trip to Portsmouth himself, Boals said he felt Lauderdale showed abilities that make him an intriguing prospect for NBA teams.
“With Dallas’ athleticism and length, I think running the floor, rebounding, blocking shots and finishing around the basket when he catches it (were big),” he said. “Those deals are tough for big guys a lot of times because they don’t touch the ball but his stats measured out. His length and athleticism were some of the top statistics at the Portsmouth Invitational.”
Listed at 6-8, 255 pounds by OSU, Lauderdale boasts a wingspan of 7-6½, according to Boals. Coupling that with his overall athleticism could make him a player that catches the eye of an NBA team during a personal workout.
“I think the first thing that will stick out will be his athleticism and length,” Boals said. “That goes a long ways to the NBA people. If he was 6-8 with a 6-8 wingspan, it would be a totally different story. He can run, he can jump and he has all those factors NBA teams look at.”
Said Lauderdale: “I was definitely blessed with long arms. That’s nothing but a blessing for me, having the ability to be able to use my arms to block shots and grab rebounds and alter shots.”
For his OSU career, Lauderdale averaged 4.2 points. 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per contest. DraftExpress.com rates him the No. 51 senior prospect.
Lauderdale said he thought fellow senior David Lighty was working out in Columbus while Boals said Jon Diebler is currently working out in Las Vegas. The trio have exchanged text messages but have not seen much of each other since the season ended.
“Now it’s a business,” Lauderdale said. “Now we’re not just doing this for college, we’re doing this trying to make a living. I realize Jon has to do what he has to do, I have to do what I have to do and Dave has to do what he has to do. The time for hanging out will come but right now that’s not the main goal.”
After his experience in Portsmouth, Lauderdale returned to Columbus, where he continues to work out. Boals said he will spend time working out in a few weeks in Las Vegas in preparation for the NBA draft. Lauderdale said landing a spot on an NBA roster remains the ultimate goal.
“One hundred percent that’s what he wants to do,” Boals said. “He can make good money playing the game. It’s just a matter of where it’s going to be. He’s going to get a shot at the NBA. I know some teams that are very intrigued by him. If it doesn’t work out then he’s going to make good money wherever he goes.”
With no immediate deadlines on tap, Lauderdale said he will simply keep the focus on what he can control – himself.
“I think I have some pretty good abilities that transfer over to the professional game but I’m not really too worried about that right now,” he said. “I’m more focused on just trying to be a better basketball player than I was the day before. I can’t foresee the future because I don’t know what my future holds. I only know who holds my future and that’s God. I’m taking it one day at a time.”