Notes: Former Notre Dame guard Steve Vasturia learns about business of NBA

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

Sure and steady during his Notre Dame days, former guard Steve Vasturia wasn’t about to change his ways to prove he could play, even at the game’s highest level.

So when a half-dozen NBA teams brought him in for workouts leading up to Thursday’s annual draft, Vasturia did what he did during his four years with the Irish – move and cut and take good shots and defend and just kind of play. Even if he crushed every workout, Vasturia understood where he stood in the draft’s big-picture pecking order.

A guy who scored 1,400 points and played 4,402 minutes in 137 career college games wasn’t going to rocket into the first round. Or early second. Or even late second. He likely won’t even be drafted. And that’s OK.

“A lot of the workouts, I wasn’t one of the main guys that teams were looking at,” Vasturia said earlier this week by phone. “But I tried to stand out and play well against guys that teams are thinking about drafting.”

The 6-foot-6, 212-pound Vasturia auditioned for teams mainly along the East Coast and a quick trip from his home in Medford, N.J. He spent one day in suburban New York City with the Knicks. There, one of the half-dozen prospects also in for a visit was former Notre Dame teammate V.J. Beachem. The two guarded one another in drills and were teammates during a quick game of three-on-three.

“It was great to have somebody to catch up with and talk through the process,” Vasturia said of Beachem, who could slide into Thursday’s second round. “He’s put himself in a pretty good position.”

The highlight of Vasturia’s pro tour was his shortest trip. Earlier this month, Vasturia needed all of about 10 minutes to cover the ground between his parents’ home to Camden, N.J., for a workout with the hometown Sixers.

It’s the team he grew up rooting for, and then there he was, outfitted in Sixers practice gear, which he kept.

“To put on that jersey was cool,” Vasturia said. “I thought I did pretty well, which was what I was most happy about. Not many people get the chance to work out for NBA teams, let alone one that you’ve cheered for your whole life.

“I really tried to make the most of that opportunity.”

Vasturia learned something about the NBA along the way. Sessions with each team are classified as “workouts,” yet so little of the time is spent actually working out. There are meetings with team decision-makers, physicals, interviews and questions, questions, questions about every aspect of a player’s past and present and future. Two hours in, he’d often pick up a ball for the first time.

That’s when Vasturia realized that this is a big business. A really big business.

“It was wild as to how many people teams have working and checking all the boxes on you,” he said. “It opens your eyes to these organizations and the kind of money they have and the importance that they place on guys they’re going to draft.

“They’re making a huge investment so they’re going to make sure they don’t miss anything.”

Vasturia plans to watch Thursday’s draft, but doesn’t expect to hear his name called. He and his agent at Creative Artists Agency, Andrew Morrison, expect to sort through several offers to join teams for next month’s summer league. Atlanta and Memphis have already expressed interest.

Playing in Europe remains an attractive option.

“We’ll see where it goes,” Vasturia said.

Baseline bits

• Notre Dame guard T.J. Gibbs returned to campus this week 17 pounds lighter. Gibbs, who will be a sophomore, was listed at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds last year. In workouts this week, he looked noticeably slimmer and quicker, yet stronger in finishing at the rim.

• A pair of four-star prospects visited Notre Dame and played in pickup sessions with the Irish this week. Point guard Noah Locke (McDonogh High School) from Owings, Mills, Md., visited unofficially on Monday. He toured Michigan on Tuesday. Shooting guard Robby Carmody (Mars) from Mars, Pa., arrived Tuesday for his official visit after an official visit to Purdue over the weekend.

Both will start their senior years of high school in the fall.

Notre Dame has five scholarships to offer.

• Former Irish guard Ben Hansbrough was hired Monday as an assistant coach at Western Kentucky. Hansbrough will work for Hilltopper head coach Rick Stansbury. He recruited Hansbrough out of high school in Poplar Bluff, Mo., to Mississippi State. Hansbrough spent two seasons in Starkville before transferring to Notre Dame, where he earned Big East player of the year and was a second team All-American in 2011.

Hansbrough spent the previous two years as a member of the WKU basketball support staff.

• Notre Dame will break from the norm sometime soon and announce its non-conference schedule. Sort of. While most of the non-league dates and opponents are complete, Notre Dame still doesn’t know its first opponent or how the bracket looks for the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, held early during Thanksgiving week.

First-round games against Marquette or Michigan are possible.

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Former Notre Dame guard Steve Vasturia always understood who he was and what his game was about in college. Same held true when he auditioned for a half-dozen NBA teams in the weeks leading into Thursday's draft. (Tribune File Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)