You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Led by Jeremy Sochan, Spurs rookies show off competitiveness

San Antonio Express News logo San Antonio Express News 9/27/2022 By Tom Orsborn, Staff writer

Jeremy Sochan went through his first practice with the Spurs on the opening day of training camp Tuesday, but it still wasn’t enough for the rookie forward to fully realize he’s reached the NBA.

“It hasn’t really hit yet,” he said. “I think it will really hit that I am in the NBA when the first game comes up.”

Selected ninth overall by the Spurs in June, the Baylor product sat out the Las Vegas Summer League and the week of practices leading up to it after testing positive for COVID-19. He played catch-up in open-gym scrimmages later in the summer, competing against Spurs forward Keldon Johnson and other veterans.

“Of course it is an adjustment,” Sochan said. “It’s a little different than college or European basketball, but overall, it’s been positive. All of us (rookies) have a lot of energy.”

Indeed, one thing that has stood out about Sochan and fellow first-round picks Malaki Branham and Blake Wesley is their competitiveness.

“They don’t back down,” Johnson said of the draftees, all of whom are 19.

“They are very competitive,” Johnson added. “Obviously, there are things they can work on as rookies. That’s for everybody, even the greats. But they are very competitive, and you can’t teach that. They are getting after us and we are getting after them.”

Said point guard Tre Jones: “They all real hungry to learn, and they bring the intensity every day. They are young, but they look and feel ready. We are going to try do the best we can to get them up to speed and have them ready by Game 1.”

In years past, rookies have spent plenty of time initially with the Spurs’ G League team in Austin, but coach Gregg Popovich indicated Sochan, Branham and Wesley could be with the big club from the start.

The Spurs open the preseason Sunday at Houston. The regular-season opener is Oct. 19 at home against Charlotte.

“There will be some guys,” Popovich said, “getting minutes much quicker than they might have expected, which is also fun to just throw them in the fire and see who survives, see who needs what, somebody needs more confidence, somebody needs a kick in the butt, whatever it might be.”

Getting playing time right away is just fine with Sochan.

“Am I ready? Always,” he said. “Of course, there are going to be challenges, and it’s not always going to go well. But I think I am ready, and I think (being thrown in the fire) is the best way to learn, so I can’t wait.”

Sochan’s hair earns

him a nickname

Tickled by rookie Sochan’s tri-color, Fiesta-flavored dyed hair, Johnson quickly dubbed his new teammate “Sprinkles.”

“I didn’t even know what sprinkles meant, and then someone told me it was the ice cream topping,” Sochan said.

Sochan, who enjoyed dying his hair at Baylor, said he got the festive look about a week ago.

“On Instagram, everyone was telling me to do it. So I said, ‘Why not? Let’s do it,’” he said.

With his No. 10 jersey, colorful hair and focus on rebounding and defense, Sochan has quickly drawn comparisons to Dennis Rodman, who played two controversy-filled seasons for the Spurs from 1993 to 1995.

Sochan said he has studied “The Worm” in action via YouTube.

Asked if he is going to be a “pest” like Rodman, who tormented opponents with his chippy style, Sochan said, “There will be times where people don’t like me. But I think that’s just the way basketball is played. Definitely be watching Dennis Rodman.”

Pop begins season

without facial hair

Sochan isn’t the only member of the Spurs with a new look. Popovich arrived at camp clean-shaven after sporting a beard for quite a while.

“I don’t know where I was, I was someplace this summer, and I was trying to make it look like I was really trying to take care of (my beard), and I did something and half of it was gone, and I had to shave it all off,” he said. “There was no rhyme or reason. I just did it.”

torsborn@express-news.net

Twitter: Tom_Orsborn

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from San Antonio Express News

San Antonio Express News
San Antonio Express News
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon