By Joseph Staszewski
Devin Ebanks stayed ready through the drawn-out NBA lockout. The former West Virginia star knew adjusting to the league in what was expected to be a shortened season wasn’t going to be easy for a second-year player with little experience.
“I was pretty excited when they lifted the lockout and got a chance to play,” Ebanks said. “I was ready to play the whole time.”
The 6-foot-9, 215-pound Long Island City native made the most of his opportunity. Ebanks was drafted in the second round by the Lakers in 2010 and by mid-season was playing right alongside the likes of Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace and Pau Gasol. He appeared in 24 games, averaging 16.5 minutes, 4.0 points and 2.3 rebounds.
“I got my chance and I did what I had to do,” said Ebanks, who played with Queensbridge last Thursday night at Nike Pro City at Baruch College.
The Lakers lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round. Ebanks was ejected and handed a fine of $25,000 for shoving fellow Queens native Royal Ivey in the series opener and going through some histrionics following the ejection, which included kicking over a chair.
It hardly ruined his season, however.
“It was a good experience playing in and making the playoffs,” he said. “It didn’t end the way we wanted it to.”
The versatile forward showed off the skills that have enabled him to stick with the Lakers on the court last Thursday at Baruch College. Ebanks cut through defenders in the lane, knocked down the occasional mid-range jumper and hustled on the glass on the both ends of the floor. He missed much of the first half, relegated to a stationary bike late in the first quarter after tweaking his knee, but still finished with 15 points and eight rebounds. He is looking to add to his game this summer playing at Pro City and the Drew League in California.
“Strengthening my legs, my upper body, being able to take the hit,” Ebanks said. “Improve my jump shot. That’s pretty much it.”
He believes his transition this past season was smooth because of his preparation in the offseason as everything panned out the way he hoped. Ebanks learned a lot from playing with Bryant, who he said pulled him over a few times to give him advice.
“It meant a lot,” he said. “He is one of the top players to ever play, so anything that comes from him it is pretty good.”
Ebanks is happy to be home for awhile now after such a big year in this life. There is the joy of seeing family and friends to whom he can share his experiences with.
“It’s a dream come true, especially playing with Kobe, Derek Fisher, [Andrew] Bynum and all the great players we have,” Ebanks said.