Indiana Pacers power forward David West has the names memorized as if there will be a final exam: Kenyon Martin, Stromile Swift, Amare Stoudemire, Marcus Fizer, Drew Gooden.
West watched the NBA drafts in the years before he would be eligible and knew his playing style was different from his immediate predecessors at the position. He didn't play above the rim and he wasn't the quickest player on the court.
West didn't have to figure out his "flaws." NBA teams told him prior to the 2003 draft that he'd a marginal player in the league because he didn't fit the prototype of a modern NBA power forward.
"I never let any of that get to me, it just motivated me," said West, who has been surpassed at the position only by Stoudemire. "If you look around, most of those guys who could just fly out the roof dunking the ball are no longer in the league."
He's averaged double figures each of the past eight seasons, made two All-Star appearances, with possibility of being selected for a third this season.
West could easily stick his nose in the air and ask all his doubters, "How do you like me now?" But that's not his style.
"That's just never a part of me," West said as he shrugged his shoulders. "That's never appealed to me. I always felt like you just go out and play the game."
Center Roy Hibbert is the Pacers' highest paid player. Danny Granger is the longest tenured. George Hill is the hometown favorite. Paul George has the most potential. West, simply put, is the backbone of the team. He's been the Pacers' most consistent player this season, averaging 17.6 points and 8.3 rebounds a game.
"He just knows how to play the game," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said.
West would go to local parks to play pickup games while growing up in Teaneck, N.J., just a rock's throw across the Hudson River from New York City.
He had the skills to compete with older players, but was often one of the last players chosen because he didn't have the tools associated with being a street ball player. He wasn't breaking ankles with swift ball skills. He wasn't causing people to rush the court in excitement after a rim-shaking dunk.
West, who didn't dunk for the first time until his junior year in high school, wasn't worried about doing those things. He focused on the fundamentals of the game, such as proper footwork in the post, a solid midrange game and being a team player
"I never really depended on my ability to out-jump, out-quick guys," West said. "My athleticism isn't the best part of my game. It's always been my smarts. That's really been the foundation for me and I worked everything else around that."
West had all the skills to be successful, but the college recruiters didn't see it that way.
Old Dominion, East Carolina and Marshall were the only schools to recruit him while he was a lanky 6-4 kid at Garner Magnet High School in North Carolina. The major Division I schools -- just like NBA personnel would -- didn't think he had the tools to be successful. It wasn't until West attended Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia that Xavier got into the mix.
"He had high-major skills, but his athleticism wasn't what most of the big programs were looking for," said Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach Jeff Capel, who was the head coach at Old Dominion when the school recruited West. "We thought we had a chance to get him until he went to prep school. That's when everything changed for him."
West didn't let the criticism eat at him. He had two motivating factors: future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan and the late Skip Prosser.
Duncan, a perennial all-star with the San Antonio Spurs, has earned the nickname Mr. Fundamental because of his ability to use his skill set to make up for his lack of athleticism. West watched and idolized Duncan while he starred at Wake Forest University.
"That was validation that it was okay not to be flashy," West said.
Prosser, the former coach at Xavier, gave West the confidence that he could have a future in the NBA.
"Sometimes you get down on yourself because (you) don't look like those (prototype) guys," West said. "Coach told me not to worry about that stuff. He used to say, "Trust yourself and trust what you can do and more than anything, trust your work.' "
West took Prosser's advice and ran with it. He was a three-time Atlantic-10 Player of the Year and an All-American at Xavier before being the No. 18 pick in the 2003 draft.
West's career became uncertain when he crumbled to the ground in pain in March 2011 against the Utah Jazz with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The loss of athleticism -- speed and leaping ability -- is the hardest part to get back following the surgery.
But West didn't have to worry about that problem because he didn't rely on those skills to be successful. His biggest issue was regaining confidence in his left knee. West often worried about how he landed on his knee after going up for a shot. He did his best to avoid having any contact on it.
Despites those concerns, West averaged 12.8 points and 6.6 rebounds last season.
The trust is back in his knee and so is the old West. Medical experts say players coming off ACL surgery usually don't return to form until the second year.
West is bullying his way in the post, getting enough space to get his shot off and schooling the younger players who think they have an athletic advantage on him. He's arguably the best pick-and-pop power forward -- setting a screen then flaring to the perimeter for a jumpshot -- in the NBA.
"One thing about D West is that he's one of the smartest players I've ever had," said Cleveland coach Byron Scott, who coached West in New Orleans. "His basketball IQ is off the charts. He knows how to get where he wants. His basketball skills are some of the best in the league for a big man.
"It's just that nothing he does is real flashy. That's why he doesn't get all the attention that he probably deserves. That's just David, he's got an old-school type game, it's just very effective."
Call Star reporter Mike Wells at (317) 444-6053