Lillard chosen to play in elite tourney

While the start of the season is still months away, Weber State University guard Damian Lillard has already been playing against some of the best players in the nation.
Two weeks ago, Lillard traveled to Los Angeles, Calif., where he participated in the Adidas Nations Showcase Camp. He was one of 29 players from across the country at the tournament which featured players from many big-name schools.
“It was great competition,” Lillard said. “A lot of the players there were from major schools like Ohio State, Duke, Memphis, Kansas, and schools like that. I was the only player there that was from the mid-major schools.”
A mid-major school is a term used to designate a school that is outside of the major six conferences which are called high-major schools.
This was Lillard’s second year participating in the prestigious tournament, and he said he knows that the tournament could be a steppingstone to bigger things for him. Last year, he was able to play in front of numerous NBA scouts, but the scouts were unable to attend this year due to the lockout.
“This was my second year going to it,” Lillard said. “Last year, a lot of players got drafted who went to it.”
The thing that impressed Lillard the most was the speed and athleticism that was on display at the camp. He said that the athleticism was something that stuck out to him.
“The thing that stuck out the most was the pace that they’re playing at,” Lillard said. “The pace was really fast, and everyone was strong and physical. It’s like that in Division I all the time, but at the highest level, the level closest to the NBA, it’s so fast-paced. Everybody is so athletic.”
Lillard missed much of last season because of a broken foot. He said that he felt lucky to have been selected despite not playing for much of last year and that he was thankful for the opportunity to play in front of scouts and other NCAA stars.
“First of all,” Lillard said, “I was honored by the opportunity to stand out as a mid-major player to go and have a chance to compete with high-major players. The first thing that comes to mind is to take advantage of the opportunity.”
He said that a lot of players at the level he plays at would kill for the opportunity to play in front of the people he got to play for.
In his sophomore year, Lillard led the Big Sky Conference in scoring with 19.9 points a game and was named the conference’s MVP. He missed much of last season due to his injury, but was granted a medical redshirt by the NCAA, meaning he will be able to play for two more years at WSU.
WSU Assistant Coach Eric Duft said that the fact that Lillard was selected for the camp shows that WSU is a strong program and can produce quality players.
“It’s a high-level deal,” Duft said. “It’s outstanding for our program.”
The Wildcats will likely be favored to win the Big Sky Conference this season with the return of Lillard and many other key players. They will get the regular season under way on Dec. 3, when they will host San Jose State University.