I love the NBA, everything about it. I study it. I know people that have played. Every time I see these guys, I just want to keep going nonstop. —Seaholm High School sophomore Alex Cibulka
BIRMINGHAM, Mich. — A pair of large Indian Trails buses were parked outside Seaholm High School in a suburb of Detroit.
During third hour — and lunch for others — random students passed by the gymnasium to glance inside on Wednesday morning to catch a glimpse of the Utah Jazz during shootaround in preparation for the Detroit Pistons.
“I’ve never seen the players before,” said Andrew Rebock, a 15-year-old freshman.
The Jazz aren’t the first team to hold a practice at Seaholm while in town to play Detroit. Students have also been exposed to the Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers.
“It’s cool when you actually get to see them,” said 14-year-old freshman Jack Goldstein. “I’m not that good at basketball, it’s still cool to see.”
In the same gymnasium a couple of months ago, sophomore Alex Cibulka was actually cut from the Maples JV basketball team.
“I love the NBA, everything about it. I study it. I know people that have played,” Cibulka said. “Every time I see these guys, I just want to keep going nonstop.”
To Jazz coach Quin Snyder, the location doesn’t matter. It’s all about getting in work.
“Basketball is basketball,” Snyder said. “Guys grow up playing on the playground and everybody went to high school so you can still get what you want to get done and get prepared and that’s what we did.”
To Cibulka, witnessing the NBA players for just that moment is a priceless experience. Expect him to be back next year, in the same spot, for tryouts with a new mentality.
“I thought to myself, you know you look at all these players who try out for different teams and they get sent down to the lower leagues of the NBA and they don’t get to fulfill their dream like I didn’t get to fulfill mine,” Cibulka said. “There’s a lot of big players in this league and I look up to a lot of them and they just inspire me to the point that I can’t even put it into words.”
For a player like Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell, who was an unheralded recruit in high school, he’s happy that his presence can serve as motivation to the younger generation like Cibulka. The 21-year-old didn’t expect to be the top scoring rookie this season, averaging 19.2 points, after making a tough decision to leave college after his sophomore season, but he’s living his dreams. Others can, too.
“A lot of kids just don’t know how good they can be if they just continue to work,” Mitchell said. “They see that they’re trying, their shots aren’t falling, but if you just continue to work, anything is possible.
“Anything can happen and I’m happy that I can be one of those influences.”