Talent abound at Professional Basketball Combine hosted by Valencia alumnus

Featuring 12 of 24 potential professional basketball players from Michigan State, South Carolina and the University of Houston among others, Day 1 of the two-day Professional Basketball Combine (PBC) got underway at the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks on Tuesday.

The event was headed up by combine director and PBC founder Jake Kelfer, a Valencia basketball alumnus.

Offering NCAA Men’s Basketball players a secondary draft combine opportunity to showcase their knowledge, skills and athletic abilities in front of 16 or so NBA and G-League scouts players began the day at 8 a.m. for individual fitness testing and drills.

After the testing, players hit the court for some on-ball workouts with PBC trainers and staff to highlight their elite ball handling, shooting, and other essentials skills needed to elevate themselves and their play to the next level.

“We have gone over a couple different things like spots on the floor,” said former Michigan State guard Matt McQuaid. “I think one spot was called the ‘nipple’, I’ve never heard that before. But it’s all good to know because there’s so many great minds out here and I’m just kind of taking it all in and enjoying it all.”

Transitioning from playing in the college ranks to the NBA, G-League or professionally overseas is not an easy task. Not everyone gets invited to the NBA Draft Combine, but PBC has been an effective avenue to allow such players the right opportunity and stage to make the jump.

Since its inception in 2017, the PBC has had nine attendees sign Two-Way NBA contracts and had 23 NBA Summer League invites with 100% of the attendees sign some type of professional contract.

“Everybody’s approach is different,” said Virginia Tech junior Kerry Blackshear Jr. “There is a fine line between making it and not being able to have that opportunity. Everybody is working towards something so much bigger than where we are now so it’s exciting to be a part of.”

Blackshear Jr. is one of many college players that is benefitting from the new NCAA rules change that allows players to return to their school if they go undrafted.

After having a breakout junior year, averaging career highs in points (14.9), total rebounds (7.5), offensive rebounds (3.1) and assists (2.4), Blackshear Jr.’s coach at Virginia Tech Buzz Williams resigned to become the new Men’s Basketball head coach at Texas A&M University on Apr. 3.

Blackshear Jr. entered his name in the NBA Draft, but wasn’t invited to the NBA Draft Combine held in Chicago from May 15-19, as a result Blackshear decided to attend the PBC.

“I feel like each season I’ve grown and I was fortunate to play on a really good team,” Blackshear Jr. said. “They helped me place myself in a position where I can try out for this opportunity and I wanted to take advantage of it and see where I can take it.”

Tomorrow Blackshear, McQuaid and the 10 other NBA hopefuls switch places the 12 attendees that were taking part in the educational and interviewing process that combine director and PBC founder Jake Kelfer and his team perform in house.

“This is awesome,” Kelfer said. “We have spent a lot of time preparing for this. We have 12 great guys on the court today. We had combine testing with everyone this morning so it’s been a great turnout. Guys are getting the opportunity, taking advantage of it and are happy to be here.”

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About the author

Diego Marquez

Diego Marquez

A native Angeleno, Diego is a sports aficionado that has played and covered multiple sports since he was a child. He is a graduate of California State University, Northridge and is a sports writer for The Signal.