By: Aaron Williams
Watching him play in M.H.P.’s second week victory over Hank’s Panthers, one would never expect that basketball was not Drew League Top Performer Victor Rudd Jr.’s first sport. He says he didn’t even like roundball that much, preferring football. Fortunately for Rudd – and fans of the hardwood hustle – he was picked up in his sophomore year to play basketball, and kept improving. He can now count himself among those few who has a legitimate shot to play the sport at the highest level, as he spends the next few weeks working out with NBA teams, including the New Orleans Pelicans. Rudd spends six to seven hours a day working on conditioning, lifting and shooting. It’s paying off, as he has earned himself a Summer League berth with the Pelicans, but he will always consider the Drew his basketball home.
“My first time playing in the Drew League, I was in ninth grade, so I would be fourteen,” says Rudd. “It’s always been around; I always knew what it was.” Incredibly, though, this will be Rudd’s first full season playing in the league (allowing for time missed due to NBA tryouts and summer league commitments). He established himself in a big way for the Most Hated Players, dropping 45 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 assists in their tilt against Hank’s Panthers. He has shown himself to be a tremendous impact player, modeling his game after current NBA player Shaun Livingston, whom he resembles as a 6’9” playmaker. He says he prefers to do “everything” rather than simply aiming to score, a trait that works well within the guard-centric offense of M.H.P., where the ball handler often shoots, and the pill has a tendency to stick to the flashier players. Rudd is not just the centerpiece, getting into the lane and working the post against smaller wing players he gets matched up against, he’s also the perfect counterpart to the small fleet of shooters boasted by Swaggy P’s team.
Rudd says that he’s always been around Nick Young, working out with him. Both are Drew League kids through and through. Commitments to Arizona State, and subsequently, University of South Florida, where he most recently averaged 16.1 points a game in 32 minutes per game, prevented him from being able to play in Drew competition. “(Shaun), Lamar Odom, T-Mac, I always felt like they did it all,” he elaborates. It’s this trait that has served him well this past NBA D-League season with the Delaware 87ers. He’s acquitted himself fantastically, pulling down 6.8 rebounds, putting up 15.9 points, and handing out 2.5 assists in 31.2 MPG. The 87ers’ official page contains a dozen different highlight videos of the big wing slamming down tremendous, crowd-pleasing dunks and hitting teardrop floaters, while displaying his nearly supernatural agility and natural basketball instinct. He’s been known to run the point as well as playing big from the wing, often looking to dish before looking for his own shot. But his ability to put the ball on the floor is not to be overlooked. Victor can get into the lane with long strides that carry all the momentum of his 238-lbs. frame. Potential defenders are wise to get out of the way when he’s on his way to the rim.
His favorite thing about playing in the Drew? “The fans,” he declares, “Everybody from L.A. be playing, everybody you grew up with.” He says he’s looking forward to playing “whoever gets buckets,” citing Brandon Jennings and James Harden as the pair he seeks to challenge, having played with them at open runs and wanting to play against the best. Of course it’s not just about playing against the best, it’s about being counted among them. “I’m going for MVP. We got a team that can win. I don’t know the last time the MVP won. I want both of them.” Victor Rudd Jr. is one to watch, but if he keeps producing at the levels he has in the first month, he’ll also be the guy to bet on.
Aaron Paul Williams is a hardcore hoops fanatic. His musings on basketball, beats, rhymes, and life can be found on Twitter @aaronsmarter.