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Wafer likes to beat odds

first_img It didn’t matter. An AAU team out of Little Rock, Ark., found Wafer and helped put him on the national radar. By the end of his senior year, Wafer had a scholarship to Florida State and an invitation to play in the McDonald’s All- American game. Now consider the circumstances Wafer found himself in this April, when he decided to enter the NBA Draft after two turbulent years as a Seminole, culminating in a season in which he was regularly benched and twice suspended for disciplinary reasons. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week He read plenty of reports saying he would not get drafted. He wasn’t about to be welcomed back to Florida State, even if he didn’t sign with an agent. He ended up being selected by the Lakers in the second round with the No. 39 pick. “Every day I think about that,’ Wafer said. “I made sure I looked at the negative things people said about me every day when I was going through my workouts so I could be motivated. Sometimes I look at them from time to time now.’ Maybe it’s not such a good idea then to bet against Wafer, as the 20- year-old guard tries to make the team out of training camp. After all, Wafer said he won’t merely be content with a spot on the roster; he wants to carve out a 10-year career in the NBA. “It’s good to be where I’m at right now but it can be gone away at any given time,’ Wafer said. “I set my standards a little bit higher. When I get there, I think I’ll be proud of myself then.’ Exactly where Wafer fits is in question. He connected on 48 percent of his 3-pointers in summer- league play and could be the shooter the Lakers need off the bench. But he has little experience handling the ball, part of the job description for a guard in the triangle offense. HONOLULU –Playing in the tiny town of Homer, La., just across the state line from Arkansas in what could be called Karl Malone country, Von Wafer nearly went unnoticed his first three years as a high school basketball player. “I was going to a Class C school, it had like 150 students K-12,’ said Wafer, who averaged 32 points a game almost anonymously as a junior at Pineview High School, “so nobody really ever came to see me play.’ center_img “He’s a highly competitive kid,’ Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “He’s a child in many aspects of basketball. He’s probably played a lot at the wing and we’re forcing him out there on top of the floor to play a guard position. So that’s where he’s struggling a little bit. “He’s a great shooter. He’s got quickness. He takes the ball to the basket really hard and he competes very well on defense. . . . I’m really pleased with his talent. We anticipate that it’s a growth year for him, like Andrew (Bynum), so we want to keep encouraging him, keep him learning in the process of competing with these guys.’ One unintended benefit of Lamar Odom’s off-season shoulder surgery is that it somehow improved the mechanics of the 6-foot- 10 forward’s shot. Odom said his shot never has felt smoother and he now expects to connect whenever he is left open. Ross Siler can be reached at (818) 713-3607. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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