Anthony Bennett is unable to play with the Cleveland Cavaliers during Summer League while he rehabs from shoulder surgery. But Bennett is in Las Vegas visiting UNLV, where he played his college basketball, for the first time since being selected with the first overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
Bennett talked to the media for a little while on Tuesday afternoon and I was able to chat with Dave Rice, the head coach at UNLV for a few minutes. We talked about Anthony Bennett's defense, conditioning, and versatility. Here's what he had to say about the newest member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
On Anthony Bennett's defensive effort at UNLV:
"I think that moving from prep school to the college level was a difficult transition in a lot of ways. He performed extremely well for us -- he was an all-conference player. The positive thing for Anthony moving forward is that he's a terrific teammate and there's nothing on a basketball court that he can't do. He's capable of doing anything. So I think the biggest thing is that he understands for him to move forward and become the player that he has the potential to be that he just needs to be more consistent on the defensive end. Because a lot of times he was a terrific defender -- he was a great rebounder but there were just times when his consistency and his effort weren't where they needed to be and he understands that now."
On Bennett's conditioning:
"I do know that he understands that his conditioning moving forward will need to continue to improve. A thing that is a positive is that he had missed a number of games in his last year at Finley Prep and we played 35 games this past year and he played in all 35. He's gotten better every year and I have no doubt he'll make the same type of improvement moving forward."
On if Bennett's shoulder injury impacted his play at UNLV:
"There's no doubt that it was a factor during conference play. He had a fantastic non-conference season, and was still an all-conference player for us, but there's no doubt that his shoulder was an issue at times. Although I think that's somehow a positive in terms of showing his toughness because he was actual able to play hurt and still produce for us."
On if Bennett has the lateral quickness to play on the perimeter:
"Yeah, there's no doubt. There's no doubt. He can do anything on a basketball court. I had that question "well do you think he's a 3 or a 4?" and I think today his most natural position is 4, but there's no doubt that he has the ability to play the 3. He's got tremendous lateral quickness, he's got great hands, he's got all the things one needs to be an excellent perimeter defender. I have all the confidence in the world that he'll be able to guard on the perimeter in the NBA."
On the Cleveland Cavaliers' process leading up to the NBA Draft:
"I've done this for a long time. Whether it was as a player at UNLV or as an assistant coach at UNLV, or being at BYU with Jimmer Fredette, now here the past two years, there's no doubt that the Cavaliers were as thorough as any process I've ever seen. And they were at a number of practices, a number of games, and after the season they came out for a few days. They did a lot of work with various support staff people and the staff and so forth. They knew exactly what they were doing and I have a lot of confidence in Chris Grant and David Griffin and the process that they used to come to their decision."