Nate Wolters Working Toward NBA Dream
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After being one of the most productive players in college basketball over the last four years at South Dakota State, Nate Wolters is out to achieve his ultimate goal of playing in the NBA.Watch More Video Here
Nate Wolters: Gym Rat Working Toward NBA Dream
The coaches at the renowned IMG Basketball Academy have been putting in extra work lately. On an average day, they’ll put their group of NBA draft prospects through a morning session and an afternoon session with weightlifting in between. However, since Nate Wolters has arrived in Bradenton, they’re always on call.
Wolters will text or call the coaches at night and on off-days. Sometimes, he’ll ask to put up shots. Other times, he’ll want an extra workout. Last Friday, Wolters participated in the two scheduled sessions and weightlifting, and then did two extra individual sessions with a coach.
The 21-year-old guard is the definition of a gym rat. The team that drafts Wolters on June 27 won’t have to worry about his love of the game. When he’s not working out, he’s in front of a television watching an NBA game. He tweets about the games and studies the league’s best players (he admitted that he was “depressed” the night that Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles tendon).
“I just really love the game and I continue to try to get better every day,” Wolters said.
This is nothing new. When he was at South Dakota State University, Wolters had a nightly ritual. After a day of classes and practice, he would head to Frost Arena for one hour of shooting drills followed by dribbling drills in the team’s lounge while he watched an NBA game. This extraordinary work ethic is part of the reason why Wolters was able to have such an impressive college career at SDSU. He led the Jackrabbits to their first winning season as a Division I team and to their first NCAA Tournament appearance. He accumulated the most points (2,363) and assists (669) in school history.
It won’t be a surprise if an NBA team falls in love with Wolters during the pre-draft process. Every NBA team has scouted him at least once, according to SDSU coaches, so they have an idea what Wolters can do. Last season, he averaged 22.3 points, 5.8 assists, 5.6 rebounds and 1.7 steals. He had double-digit points in every game. His 53-point performance in February (in which he was 9-14 from three-point range) was the highest point total in a D-1 game all season. Wolters’ game film, and his basketball addiction, should get the attention of the executives around the league.
At IMG, Wolters’ hard work is paying off. Not only has he improved as a player, he has also bulked up. He’s working on “staying in front of guys” on the defensive end and perfecting his offensive game. He has also put on weight. That’s one of the benefits of training at IMG, which specializes in weight management. Their nutritionists put players on a customized meal plan and then their trainers work with them in the weight room.
“[I’m working on] all aspects of the game,” Wolters said. “I’m getting my shot up a little bit quicker. I’m also trying to gain a little bit of weight. A lot of guys in the league are pretty strong so I need to gain a little bit of weight to compete.”
Wolters can’t wait to start working out for NBA teams. During his last few seasons, he has been the primary scorer for the Jackrabbits and defenses focused almost all of their attention on shutting him down. Teams game planned for him and he was often facing multiple defenders. Playing one-on-one or two-on-two and only having to worry about one defender will be a welcome change for Wolters.
“I’m definitely a competitive person,” Wolters said. “I think that will show in the workouts when we play two-on-two, one-on-one and stuff like that. I’m really looking forward to it.”
The biggest misconception about Wolters’ game is that he’s only a scorer. However, that’s not the case. Much like Damian Lillard at Weber State, he was just doing what the team needed him to do to be successful. At South Dakota State, Wolters was asked to score, but he’s also a very underrated passer and he has a tremendous basketball IQ. For proof, look no further than the 5.8 assists he averaged while playing with average talent at SDSU. Put him in a lineup with NBA players and imagine what he’d do. Wolters is determined to prove that he’s a well-rounded player who can contribute in a number of ways.
“I think some people think I’m just a scorer, but I can be a pass-first point guard,” Wolters said. “I averaged like six assists this year so I can also be a pass-first guy and make plays and make the players around me better.”
When asked which players he has modeled his game after, Wolters mentioned Greivis Vazquez of the New Orleans Pelicans and Goran Dragic of the Phoenix Suns. He explained that it’s a fitting comparison because they’re “pretty tall point guards who can make other players better.”
The coaches at IMG rave about Wolters and believe he can really help an NBA team. Wolters is automatic from just about anywhere on the court; he has NBA range and then some. Most mock drafts have Wolters projected as an early second round pick. However, even if Wolters is selected late, he’ll likely continue working until he emerges as a contributor. Some players stop working hard after hearing their name called on draft night, but don’t expect Wolters to slack off. He wouldn’t know what to do if he wasn’t in the gym. He spends most of his time on the hardwood and perfecting his game is all he knows.
When asked what he’ll bring to an NBA team, Wolters’ pitch is clear.
“I’ll be a hard worker,” Wolters said. “I’ll be in the gym extra hours, getting shots up. That’s something I’ll bring. I mean, I’ll do whatever the team needs.”
Just ask the coaches at IMG. Or, better yet, check their phone records.