|From stroller to center: McGee follows Mom to pros|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 30 June 2008 13:09|
``He sat in the stroller on the bench with the nanny,'' Pamela McGee said, ``so literally he's been around the game since he was 9 months old.''
The mother-son combo would go on to make a nifty answer to a trivia question. Last week, JaVale became the first son of a former WNBA player to be selected in the NBA draft, chosen No. 18 overall by the Washington Wizards.
``Out of the womb,'' said the son with a laugh, when asked at what age his mother taught him to dribble a basketball.
The Wizards formally introduced their first-round pick Monday on his first visit to the nation's capital. The 20-year-old, 7-foot center, who left Nevada after his sophomore year, is considered a long-term prospect, but his pedigree could help speed up his adjustment to the NBA lifestyle.
``It's a good thing that he comes from a basketball environment, where people cared about the game, and he went to practices and watched the hard work,'' Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said. ``Obviously, his mother didn't become an All-American and an outstanding professional without working hard and having a great work ethic. He grew up in that environment. He knows what it takes.''
Before JaVale was born, Pamela played for Southern California and was a member of the 1984 U.S. Olympic team that won the gold medal in Los Angeles. Later, when the WNBA was formed, Pamela returned after many years overseas and played for the Los Angeles Sparks and Sacramento Monarchs. She then became an assistant coach for the Detroit Shock.
By that time, her son's talent was impossible to ignore.
``Regular mothers say, 'Brush your teeth,''' Pamela said. ``I'd say, 'Did you shoot your free throws?'''
The 1-on-1 games between mother and son finally stopped around JaVale's sophomore or junior year in high school, when Mom could no longer win.
``Those days are over,'' she said. ``I don't play him anymore because we're both competitive. And if he beats me, I say I'll never live it down.''
Talented 7-footers aren't easy to find, and the Wizards hope the shot blocking ability and athleticism JaVale displayed in the Western Athletic Conference will translate well to the NBA.
``We think he can fill some needs for us down the road,'' Grunfeld said. ``How long it's going to be is really going to be determined by him.''