Thursday night marks the first night of March Madness, and even though we are in NBA locker rooms – it’s all that anyone is talking about.
For rookies around the NBA, this time of year brings back a lot of memories as they watch their colleges going into March Madness without them.
While his UNLV Rebels might not have made it to the tournament during his lone year at college, Orlando Magic rookie Stephen Zimmerman said it brings up a lot of feelings.
“I mean, it’s kind of tough because we didn’t really get to where we wanted to go when I was there, but I’m excited to watch all of the games,” Zimmerman said. “A lot of my friends are still in college, so I enjoy watching them play and I’m excited for them.”
Although the Rebels didn’t make it to the tournament this year, Zimmerman has been keeping track of the competition leading into March Madness and tells us that he’s excited to watch Kentucky and Duke play.
“I like the young Kentucky team,” he said. “Obviously the favorite is Duke though – they have been really good. It’s tough because anyone can knock out anyone.”
This year is producing several elite level players that have been really excited to watch throughout the year, but Zimmerman says that a few guys in particular have caught his eye.
“I know Caleb Swanigan has been playing really good, he’s a guy that I played against for a while, his teammate Issac Hass is really good too – and Malik Monk has been playing really well. Those are the guys I’m watching. ”
After making some big moves in the pre-season, the Magic have recently started to make some positive move acquiring Terrence Ross before the trade deadline – but the organization will be taking part in the draft lottery at the end of the season.
This is a chance for the Magic to pick up some young talent and start looking towards the future. Speaking about the caliber of young players that will be entering the draft in a few months time, Zimmerman says it hard to say if any of this years crop of players would be a good fit with the Magic, but he’s excited to see what they can get out of the draft.
“It’s hard to say just because it’s so different. Being in my first year it’s still tough to know who would be a good fit, but I’m excited to see what we can do with the draft,” Zimmerman said.
On Thursday night, as his Magic took the floor against the Golden State Warriors, Zimmerman found himself facing off against his ex-UNLV teammate Patrick McCaw. After completing their respective warmups, both rookies then seized the opportunity to catch up with each other before tip-off.
“We were definitely catching up,” Zimmerman revealed. “We haven’t seen each other in a while so I was just asking him how he likes it and everything. He was saying that he loves it and we were talking about everything, and how things were back at UNLV – It was great to catch up with him.”
The first round of March Madness is now in full swing, so make sure you tune in and see how Zimmerman’s predictions pan out.
Featured Image: USA Today