Erik Etherly knows he probably won't get an opportunity like this again. Most analysts have him going undrafted in next week's NBA draft.
So when the former Loyola forward worked out in front of Randy Wittman and the Washington Wizards coaching staff Wednesday morning at the Verizon Center, he tried to make the most of it.
"You really have to come out and prove yourself and show that you have the potential, [that] you can get a lot better as long as they give you the opportunity to," Etherly said. "You have to take an opportunity like I had [Wednesday] with the hometown team."
After finishing his senior season at Loyola in March, Wednesday's practice was Etherly's first for an NBA team. The Fairfax, Va., native graduated in December 2012 with a degree in communications, but he decided he would no longer pursue a graduate degree after the season ended.
He started to practice with Baltimore trainer Alan Van Norden, working to earn an invitation to an NBA team's pre-draft tryout. Weeks later, he found himself on the Wizards' practice court at the Verizon Center.
"I just wanted to show my 3-guard position and show my versatility," Etherly said. "Also want to improve consistency in my jump shot."
Consistency has been a key word for Etherly over the years.
Though he was a two-time first-team All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference selection, this past season, for example, he had 11 games in which he scored 11 points or fewer. Five of those games were in the final nine of the season.
He also had shining moments in his career. In the 2012 NCAA tournament, he had a 19-point, seven-rebound performance against Ohio State's Jared Sullinger. This season, he scored more than 20 points in 11 games, including a 27-point, 11-rebound effort against Kent State in the CollegeInsider.com tournament's second round.
"He was a little unorthodox because he was a left-handed post player," said G.G. Smith, an assistant at Loyola when Etherly played and now the Greyhounds' head coach. "But he could get you on the mid-range shot, too. He faced a lot of double teams, and you're not going to be scoring much on two people."
Throughout his career, though, Etherly wasn't necessarily happy with his position on the court. A 6-foot-7, 225-pound forward, he played power forward and center during his time with the Greyhounds.
Etherly always thought he fit better at small forward. It's a position he wants to play professionally — if he gets the chance.
With the NBA draft only one week from Thursday, most teams have already had players come to work out for them. It probably means Etherly won't have many more chances to make an impression to NBA scouts.
He is well aware of that.
"I want to just get exposure in front of NBA scouts," he said. "I'm hoping what I do here brings more exposure to my abilities and garners more workouts."
One option for Etherly is playing abroad. Former Greyhounds Andre Collins, Jason Rowe and Mike Tuck have thrived in Europe, and Etherly said that is one route he is seriously considering.
Etherly said his agent at Octagon has already spoken to European clubs that have expressed interest.
But his top goal is to get an NBA Summer League invitation, and hopefully, he says, he can work his way onto an NBA roster from there.
"I'm definitely considering it, but right now I'm just weighing my options here versus over there," he said. "It'd be great to play in front of my hometown. To get to stay here and play close to family, it'd be amazing."
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