It reads like one of those exam questions asking which statement does not belong with the others.
He was the best high school senior in the country in 2004-05. He was one of the best freshmen in the ACC in 2005-06. He was just the second sophomore in Duke history to be named a co-captain 2006-07. He was in the D-League, twice, in 2007-08.
Josh McRoberts' storybook career ran into an unexpected plot twist in his first NBA season but now that the Carmel High product is back home again, he's confident he can write the happy ending so many expect.
"I think it's good to get a fresh start here in Indiana," McRoberts said. "Obviously it's exciting to me home, here with the Pacers, and I think I've been doing everything I can to have a great opportunity and have a great outlook for this year."
A second-round pick of Portland (No. 37 overall), McRoberts hoped to team with fellow Indianapolis standout Greg Oden in the Trail Blazers' young nucleus. But McRoberts suffered a severe ankle sprain during the first week of training camp and missed more than a month and found himself playing a futile game of catch-up the rest of the season.
He played in just eight games for the Blazers and twice was sent to the Idaho Stampede of the D-League.
"I think you try to use everything you've experienced in basketball, in life, anything. Even though it's not the best experience you take from it what you can and learn," McRoberts said. "I think it helped me grow as a person and I think it helped make me more professional as a basketball player. It was tough times, obviously, getting hurt for three or four months at the start of the year, bouncing back and forth between Portland and Idaho in the D-League. It was my goal to stay out of the D-League, so that really put a hit on me, going down there and having to deal with that. But I think it made me better, more prepared, coming into this season."
Acquired by the Pacers in the trade that brought Jarrett Jack and the No. 13 pick used for Brandon Rush in exchange for the No. 11 pick (Jerryd Bayless) and Ike Diogu, McRoberts moved immediately back to Indianapolis to begin a rigorous summer of workouts in Conseco Fieldhouse, where he became a familiar presence. The 6-10 forward made an immediate impression on Coach Jim O'Brien.
"Josh is by probably a large margin our most athletic big man – quickest off the ground, probably the fastest big man that we have, does a lot of very, very positive things," O'Brien said. "I didn't know a lot about Josh prior to seeing him this summer. I'm very, very impressed with his potential because he is so big, so quick, runs so well. I think he's a guy that we value from the standpoint of the long-term."
Those words are music to McRoberts, who values being valued. His offseason program demonstrated his willingness to work and his commitment to the game. There's no guarantee he'll play more for the Pacers in 2008-09 than he did in Portland but at least he feels a legitimate part of the program.
"I think I was brought in kind of as a long-term player," he said. "No matter what happens this year (when his contract expires) hopefully I'll get another opportunity at the end of this year to be back here in Indiana and I'm excited about the opportunity I have. I'm going to try to take advantage of it. I have a much better opportunity here to play. I think the coaches and the staff are more familiar with me and know what I can do and respect what I can do a little more than in Portland."
In some cases, playing in the old hometown can be a distraction for a player, particularly a young one, because of the preponderance of friends and family. McRoberts, however, is happy to be back with those who comprise his support structure.
"For some people, it might not be a good thing but for me, I see it as a positive," he said. "I have great people around me, a great family and great friends who won't cause distractions. They'll help me out through the tough times. Being a 6-hour flight away, you don't really have too many people that have your back. I think it'll be good to be here and I'm excited for the opportunity."
Fast breaks: No search for a third point guard
Though Travis Diener could miss all of the preseason and the first two weeks of the regular season recovering from pain in his left foot, O'Brien said the team would not bring in another point guard and that Marquis Daniels would fill in behind T.J. Ford and Jarrett Jack as needed. It will only be a temporary move for Daniels. "We thought having to play him at the point last year really hurt him just because he's not a pure point guard," O'Brien said. " … Our intent (long-term) is not to use Marquis at the point this year."
Troy Murphy (sore Achilles) joined Diener and Mike Dunleavy on the sidelines for Thursday morning's practice, though his absence was deemed "precautionary" by O'Brien. After practicing twice Tuesday and Wednesday, O'Brien gave the team Thursday night off.
Jack Ramsay, O'Brien's father-in-law, is back on the sidelines as a camp observer for the second year in a row. Ramsay, 83, coached the Pacers from 1986-88 and was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992. "He really enjoys being around hoops and helping me," O'Brien said. "He wants very much for us to succeed and gets the chance to spend a lot of time with his daughter and granddaughter out here. Jack is like the rest of our coaching staff: loves to be in the gym, loves to be in a teaching environment and has forgotten more basketball than I'll ever know so it's wonderful to have him."