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Donte DiVincenzo is adapting just fine to his changing life.
He’s jet-setting from one NBA city to another Adidas James Neal Jersey , working out in front of curious coaches and inquisitive general managers. He’s more at ease now that he’s gotten past the big draft decision, and the 6-foot-4 guard finds it a little more challenging to go out, too.
It’s all part of his new, professional world.
”I’m a lot more recognizable now,” DiVincenzo joked Friday in Indianapolis. ”I used to be able to go to the mall or the movies. Now I can’t really do that because people come up to me all the time. But it’s a good problem to have.”
Yes, success sometimes comes with a price. He also knows it could be much worse.
Not many 21-year-olds are introduced as a two-time NCAA champion and DiVincenzo is the only one who actually holds the title of the Final Four’s reigning Most Outstanding Player.
The tough guy who grew up in Delaware and stole the hearts of the Philadelphia fans with his gritty play, relentless effort and sensational shooting at Villanova must now prove himself all over again in front of some of the sport’s biggest names.
His audience Friday included two former decision-makers for the Indiana Pacers – Donnie Walsh and Larry Bird. Both still work for the team, though Kevin Pritchard is the team’s president of basketball operations.
Coach Nate McMillan and his assistants also monitored the workouts, which included Ohio State’s Keita Bates-Diop, Cincinnati’s Gary Clark and Central Florida’s A.J. Davis, the son of former Pacers player Antonio Davis.
But DiVincenzo was the feature attraction. He dazzled the small audience with another strong shooting performance, rekindling visions of the 31-point game he had on championship night as the Wildcats blew past Michigan for their second championship in three years.
And he thought he answered some of the questions league executives have been asking.
”Before the combine, there were a lot of questions about whether I could guard multiple positions,” he said. ”I think they can put me anywhere on the floor. I pride myself on defending and rebounding.”
The combine also convinced DiVincenzo it was time to leave school early.
After receiving one of 60 invitations to work out in Chicago, DiVincenzo was almost certain he should go. But there was one more step, meeting with Villanova coach Jay Wright http://www.raidersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-daryl-worley-jersey , as the pressure mounted to make his decision official before the May 31 deadline.
”Personally, I knew before the deadline. I knew I was ready, but I didn’t want to make an irrational decision,” DiVincenzo said. ”If I wouldn’t have gotten an invite, it might have sent a message to me.”
Now he’s in, working out and hoping to improve his draft stock.
As for his plans on draft night, June 21, they haven’t been finalized. But a big blowout just isn’t DiVincenzo’s style.
”I might just have a small draft party in Philly,” he said.
There’s always energy in the bench press room at the NFL scouting combine when players grip the crossbar and begin pumping the 225 pounds of free weights as everybody nearby counts the repetitions.
But never like this.
Even Shaquem Griffin, the one-handed do-it-all defender from Central Florida and a late invitee to the combine, didn’t expect to do what he did Saturday with his prosthetic left hand .
His personal max was 11 reps, but he had a much more modest benchmark in mind here.
”My goal was six,” Griffin acknowledged.
Griffin clipped his prosthetic hand onto the bar, then leaned back.
This wasn’t his brother spotting him – the one who he was sure used to surreptitiously help him – but this new spotter was hyping him up and the crowd joined in as did his fellow linebacker prospects.
”Everybody in the stands was hyping me up. I got the guys I’m here with hyping me up. It felt amazing,” Griffin said. ”I was ready to go. I was ready to attack it.”
His chest heaved.
And the counting began.
One, two Authentic Breeland Speaks Jersey , three.
”I said, this thing feels like 135. Let’s go!” Griffin recounted. ”And I just started cranking them out.”
Four, five, six.
That was easy.
Seven, eight, nine.
The crowd was hollering by now.
Ten, 11 – this was his personal best.
A new high.
Thirteen … 14 … 15 … 16.
The crowd was roaring is disbelief.
Can this really be happening?
That’s one more than his twin brother, Shaquille, managed at last year’s combine before the Seattle Seahawks selected the speedy cornerback in the third round of the NFL draft.
One more … 20!
”I got chill bumps watching him do 20 reps,” said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock. ”I literally choked up a little bit watching him do that and I can’t wait to watch him tomorrow.”
On Sunday, Griffin will run the 40-yard dash, do some quickness drills and some on-field testing at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Griffin was 4 years old when doctors amputated his left hand a day after his mother found him in the kitchen attempting to cut off his jelly-like fingers, which were in scorching pain whenever he touched anything, the result of amniotic band syndrome, a congenital birth defect.
Despite having just one hand, he kept up with his twin brother on and off the field.
As dozens of reporters and photographers gathered around him Saturday Tre'Quan Smith Color Rush Jersey , Griffin said, ”I thought I was going to walk over here and it was going to be like three people.”
Not after becoming the best feel-good story of the combine so far – and by far.
”It was amazing, hearing the crowd and having the juices flowing, I mean I felt it,” Griffin said. ”I didn’t know I had it in me.”
Griffin said he’s mind-set is he always has to do more than those around him to impress coaches.
”I always hold myself to a higher standard than a lot of people just because if we’re running drills, if I drop a ball, they’re going to like, `Well, he dropped the ball because he has one hand.’ If anybody else drops a ball, they’re going to be like, `Well, maybe it was a bad ball,”’ Griffin said.
As a freshman, he couldn’t even lift the 45-pound bar, but then he was fitted with the pros ethic and his mom cried when he did his first pull-up.
”It’s amazing to see how far I’ve come from not being able to bench the bar to throwing up 20 reps of 225 and being able to compete with the best here,” said Griffin Womens Clay Matthews Jersey , the 2017 American Athletic Conference defensive player of the year.
Griffin, who played D-line, linebacker and safety at the Senior Bowl, said he’s going to try to join the defensive back drills Sunday after doing his work with the linebackers.
”I feel like I could just start curling 225 right now and I’m pretty sure come tomorrow, it’s going to be adrenalin just going crazy. I’m excited about tomorrow. If I feel this good doing the bench press, I can’t wait to see how I am tomorrow.”
Griffin said he hopes he’s an inspiration to kids everywhere.
”If I can inspire one, and they can inspire another and (soon we’ll) inspire a thousand,” Griffin said.
As evidenced by the way they were cheering him on in the bench press, he’s inspiring his fellow draft prospects at the combine.
”That’s kind of cool when you have guys at that top level, the best of the best, and they come and talk to you about you motivating them and inspiring them,” Griffin said. ”I feel really good hearing that from them. It motivates me to do more and keep pushing when you’ve got guys all over the place, the top in the country, and they’re proud of me.
”That was an amazing feeling, and it makes you enjoy it that much more.”
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