He says "at first, it's something nobody wants to hear," Boise State men's basketball center Zach Haney has grown to love his redshirt year.
The 6-foot-11, 232-pound Haney spent last season having to watch the Broncos claim the Mountain West Conference regular-season championship. But time in the weight room, along with valuable practice time, has primed him to contribute this season as a redshirt freshman.
"I'm really eager to get on the court, help this team as much as I can," Haney said.
With Kevin Allen transferring out of the program last month, the Broncos will have two centers in sophomore David Wacker and Haney.
Boise State has tried to incorporate more height into the lineup, and Haney's skills could be a headache for opponents with his ability to play with his back to the basket, or drift outside the key.
"He's always had the raw ability, and he's kind of growing into it - that redshirt year really helped in that way," Boise State coach Leon Rice said. "I know he's going to end up being a really good player.
"He fits because he can shoot. We don't have to change what we do. He can help give us those mismatches we love."
A few days after last season's end, Rice was quick to point out his eagerness to get Haney on the floor, saying he impressed during his redshirt campaign.
"Be in there before everybody and stay after," Haney said was his focus. "That's all you can do, work hard as you can, and hopefully once you get on the court, the hard work will pay off."
But it wasn't always seen as an ideal situation.
Like any player, Haney wanted to contribute immediately, and said it was difficult to imagine not being able to play a whole season. He asked teammates Mikey Thompson and James Webb III their experiences while redshirting before becoming starters - "have patience, everything will come to you, you'll be fine," was their advice. Eventually, the benefits were realized. Haney obtained a better knowledge of the offense and added about 20 pounds.
"You've just got to get over that hump and keep working as hard as you can, because you know your time will come," Haney said.
Now, Haney knows he will get on the floor this season, but he said the approach isn't altered, adding "I still have the same mindset." As Boise State mixes in talented veterans with some young talent this season, Haney is hoping to give the Broncos another option in a deep offense.
"It's very exciting, ready to get on the court, most definitely," Haney said.
Boise State junior forward Nick Duncan, whom Haney said he spent a lot of time with to sharpen his shooting skills, had nine points Thursday for Australia in a 74-67 loss to Lithuania at the World University Games in South Korea. He has 24 points in the team’s five games. They next face Turkey on Friday.
Former Bronco guard Derrick Marks could make his NBA debut Saturday when the Philadelphia 76ers face the Los Angeles Lakers in Las Vegas during Summer League play. The game tips off at 6:30 p.m. MT, and can be streamed online for those with an NBA League Pass or seen on NBA TV for those whose cable subscription includes the channel.
Webb was one of 26 college basketball players at the inaugural Nike Basketball Academy, held June 26-30 in California. Among those in attendance were potential 2016 lottery picks Ben Simmons, Jakob Poeltl, Kris Dunn, Domantas Sabonis and Damian Jones. Webb's shooting ability was praised by many who saw the event, from scout and writer Frank Burlison to former Virginia Tech coach and ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg (Insider subscription required).
St. Joe's wing Deandre Bembry is playing really well in the scrimmages at the Nike Academy. Boise State's James Webb impressing as well.— Rob Dauster (@RobDauster) June 28, 2015
Deandre Bembry of st joes been excellent both days here and James Webb from Boise state showing a lot of game. Both guys knocking down shots— Miles Simon (@milessimon) June 29, 2015
James Webb really shooting it again today. Three triples in a row in 5 on 5 play. Shoots it flat but has it working the last couple of days.— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) June 28, 2015
Boise State's James Webb has size length and a nice stroke. @nikebasketball— Seth Greenberg (@SethOnHoops) June 28, 2015