10-24-2001, 02:35 PM
Join Date: Feb 2001
Thought Murph would get a kick out of this article on McDonald's future fry-cook.
No Magic touch so far for Sasser
Rookie Sasser receives rare opportunities in veteran Orlando lineup
By JODIE VALADE / The Dallas Morning News
All of this is so new for him. Jeryl Sasser has never experienced life in the NBA, so of course it's new.
He's never lived in Florida, where they tell him it's hurricane season now, and he's not exactly sure what that means.
He's never been exposed to the type of constant schedule he is playing with the Orlando Magic.
And he's never seen the game from this vantage point – the sideline.
So take a good look at Sasser now, when he comes to Dallas with his Orlando Magic on Tuesday. Because it might be the longest look we have at the Dallas native who once starred at SMU and Kimball High.
He's a rookie on a team he swears can win the NBA title this year. That means his most minutes will come now, in the preseason.
"There are future Hall of Famers on this team," Sasser said. "It's good to be a part of it. But you've got to know your name isn't the biggest name on the team. Your name isn't the one in lights."
He plays on a team on which Grant Hill and Patrick Ewing are the established All-Stars, on which Tracy McGrady and Mike Miller are the future of the team. Sasser's name is most often mentioned somewhere near "bench."
Which is new for the all-time scoring leader of SMU, who also led Kimball to two state titles. And it is, he said, something he struggled to accept early.
"So far [it's been tough]," Sasser admitted. "But that's the way it goes. I can always learn. I can wait. I still know what I'm capable of doing."
It's the potential – along with his 6-6 height and rebounding abilities at point guard – that the Magic liked when it selected him 22nd in this year's draft. A first-round pick meant a guaranteed three-year contract, which means lots of time to grow and develop.
"Our coaching staff and personnel staff saw a guy who was a relentless worker and mirrored the same energy that our same team played with," Magic general manager John Gabriel said. "We felt like he was a really good fit for our team."
Except there is still a lot of growing to do, though injuries to Miller and McGrady have given him more opportunities in the past two games. He played a high of 34 minutes, for instance, Sunday against the LA Clippers. But in the preseason it has also been the same old erratic Sasser that played at SMU – he's shooting just 26 percent. He followed a 4-for-6 outing against Houston with a 1-for-9 showing against the Clippers.
The Magic has yet to break down Sasser's shooting mechanics, which somehow produce a sideways rotation on the ball, though that's in the long-term plans.
"His shot does not look too bad ... until it leaves his hands," Gabriel said. "Then it's off spinning in the wrong directions."
Said Sasser: "The spin they really haven't seen before. But if the shot goes in, that's all that matters."
But Orlando likes other things about his game, other things that suggest his future isn't permanently nailed to the bench.
"He's an extremely hard worker, who has an uncanny ability to get his hands on the ball from a rebounding and defensive standpoint," Magic coach Doc Rivers. "He has a chance to be a very good NBA player for a long time. He needs to continue to work on his shot, but ... he plays NBA defense now."
Source: No Magic touch so far for Sasser