Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey have gotten a taste of what life in the NBA will be like during the last few weeks.
They have been flying around the country, participating in the NBA Draft Combine and working out for roughly half the teams in the NBA at their training facilities. It’s a similar travel schedule to what NBA players experience during the grind of an 82-game regular season.
The former LSU forwards are auditioning in hopes of strengthening their position for the June 25 NBA draft.
The pace has been hectic, but well worth it.
“I’m just living the dream,” Mickey said. “This is any basketball player’s dream, even to be able to come to these workouts and be considered one of the top players.
“It’s a little tough jumping from city to city and rushing from plane ride to plane ride, but it’s what we’re trying to get paid to do.”
The most recent projections suggest Martin and Mickey will be selected by the early part of the second round with a chance to sneak into the late first round.
“It’s very tough and challenging,” Martin said of the workout schedule. “From us being able to work out and traveling to a whole other state and then working out again, it’s very tough, but we’ve got to embrace it.
“It only happens once, so we’ve got to live it out and fight through it.”
Martin has been working out in Las Vegas in between trips to work out for 13 teams.
He said he spoke with former LSU teammate Johnny O’Bryant, who’s with the Milwaukee Bucks, and two other former Tigers players — Marcus Thornton (Phoenix) and Brandon Bass (Boston) — about what to expect.
“It’s been a blessing,” he said. “This is our dream, a basketball player’s dream being here in this position.”
Both players decided shortly after the end of last season that they would turn pro rather than return to the Tigers for their junior season.
Martin announced his decision six days after N.C. State knocked LSU from the NCAA tournament (66-65) in the first round. Six days after Martin’s announcement, Mickey did the same.
Both players were All-Southeastern Conference picks and formed one of the top forward tandems in the country as the Tigers went 22-11 and earned an NCAA bid for the first time since 2009.
Martin, a former Madison Prep star who was a McDonald’s All-American as a high school senior, didn’t feel he needed an NBA evaluation before deciding to go pro. His emergence late in the season told him he was ready after he averaged 20.1 points and 10.6 rebounds in the last eight games of the season. Overall he averaged 16.9 points and 9.2 rebounds.
Mickey said he felt his defense and rebounding were ready for the NBA and were less common commodities among draft prospects than scoring.
He averaged 14.0 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.4 blocked shots after starting all 65 games he played in at LSU. He led the SEC in blocks both years and last season led the nation with an average of 3.6 per game.
Mickey played through ankle and shoulder injuries late in the season, so one of his goals in the workouts has been to demonstrate he’s healthy and more effective than he might have appeared down the stretch. Still, he averaged 15.4 points and 9.9 rebounds in 31 games last season.
Follow Les East on Twitter: @EastAdvocate.