Ever since Robert Morris bowed out of the NIT against Belmont, Karvel Anderson has slowly progressed toward a professional career.
But the realization that he was about to become a pro didn't hit him until he walked into the arena in Houston for a pre-draft workout. There was Rockets head coach and Hall of Famer Kevin McHale. Over there were stars James Harden and Dwight Howard. And going through the drills with Anderson? Guys named Nick Johnson and Sean Kilpatrick, some of the best the college ranks had to offer in 2013-14.
"Just being in the gym with those guys is a blessing," Anderson said. "It means I'm doing something right."
Anderson did a lot of things right for Robert Morris. Now he's getting the chance to pursue his dream of a pro career. Following workouts with the Rockets in Houston and with the Indiana Pacers, Anderson is hopeful but realistic. He would love to hear his name called at some point in the NBA Draft on Thursday. He also readily admits that it's far more likely something materializes in the week in between the end of the draft and the start of the NBA's summer league on July 4. He and his agent have planned accordingly.
"I feel like the summer league might be a better chance to showcase what I can do a little bit," Anderson said. "That way, with my agent, myself and my team, we can find a team that best fits me instead of the other way around. We're hoping for that, and if that doesn't pan out, we'll start looking overseas."
The plan in place almost didn't materialize. After an in-depth process, Anderson signed with Entersport, run by Marc Fleisher. Anderson is in direct contact with agent Zach Schreiber, who started tracking him heavily - including attending RMU games - in December and January. Anderson told all agents interested that he wouldn't talk about the future until after the season ended. Entersport and the others waited, but as the process whittled its way down, Anderson was leaning in another direction.
Then he had a talk with Andy Toole.
"At the time, I had pushed Entersport to the side and they weren't on my list anymore. I was going to sign with Maurice Evans, who used to play in the NBA," Anderson said. "Toole asked me the questions that Andy Toole asks, the ones that make you rethink everything. I didn't have the answers I needed, and they were questions that were really important pertaining to my career."
It was back to the drawing board and back to another round of conversations with the interested agents. At that point, Anderson realized that Entersport's plan for him made the most sense.
"They had the best plan mapped out for me. I guess it was something like a sign that Toole asked me those questions that day," Anderson said. "It could have been a bad career move for me, I don't know, but it's working out for me so far."
Entersport's plan has kept Anderson busy throughout June. He was staying busy when the first domino fell - a workout with the Rockets on June 12th. When the Pacers also sent a workout invitation, Entersport moved Anderson out to Los Angeles for a few days of training. Anderson went through three-a-day workouts in preparation for the session in Houston and then again to prepare for Indiana.
Several aspects of the workouts were similar. Both featured a variety of physical drills, complete with the customary measurement of height, reach, vertical and all the other key measurables that pro scouts and coaches like to have. There were also the customary pre-draft interviews, featuring a number of in-depth questions that pry into every nook and cranny of a player's life.
"They ask you questions that make your heart skip a beat sometimes. I got through it. Thankfully I majored in Communications, so I was able to get by on that," Anderson said with a smile.
Where they varied was with the specific drills. Houston focused on more point guard-oriented drills, something Anderson admitted he was less comfortable with. He also admitted to being nervous for the Houston workout.
"Once we got to the point guard portion of the workout is where I felt a little uncomfortable, and that's where I felt like my nerves showed a little bit. I was fine during the shooting stuff because that's what comes natural to me," he said. "You have to have a different mindset."
Indiana was slightly different. Not only did the on-court session last an hour less than in Houston, but it featured a few more shooting drills. Anderson worked out with Pitt's Lamar Patterson, Tennessee's Jordan McRae and Providence's Bryce Cotton, and he went against Cotton often in a rematch of their face-off in the 2013 NIT.
"That was my match-up for the entire workout," Anderson said. "Guarding him was like guarding myself, because we do a lot of the same moves and have the same type of mindset when it comes to scoring the basketball."
Anderson said he shot the ball better in Indiana, even with Hall of Famer Larry Bird keeping a close eye on the proceedings.
"I shook his hand for like three minutes straight, just looking in his eyes like he was my girlfriend or something," Anderson said. "I was very starstruck by him. But I wasn't really nervous shooting in front of him, because that's what I do. I wasn't trying to compete against Larry Bird. No one can compete with Larry Bird in shooting. I was just trying to show that I have the same Indiana heart that he has and the same drive to be competitive and not want to lose."
Whether either workout leads to anything remains to be seen. Anderson knows he has a lot to prove in order to play point guard, which is what he believes most NBA teams would want him to play. His realistic approach has him prepared for any of the paths his career may take. If he gets drafted Thursday night, he'll be ecstatic. If he gets a call in the ensuing week to suit up for an NBA summer league team, he'll be thrilled. And if he gets the opportunity to play overseas, he'll feel blessed and thankful for the chance, especially if it means he can play in Italy, the homeland of girlfriend (and RMU women's basketball player) Ashley Ravelli.
"If I got to choose, I'd love to go to Italy. It'd help my career and help my relationship a whole lot," Anderson said. "But I don't have a preference. I just want to play basketball and make some money and have fun as long as I can."
That's ultimately what it boils down to for him. No matter where the future takes him, Anderson's ready for the challenge and thankful for the opportunity.
"I may not get drafted into the NBA, but I've wanted to do this my whole life," Anderson said. "And the fact that I'm this close to being able to do it, that I'm even considered good enough to do it, is an accomplishment to me and something I cherish a lot."
ColonialsCorner publisher Andrew Chiappazzi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.