Open tryout attendee Kiwi Gardner has been working hard for his upcoming opportunity with the Santa Cruz Warriors, and to have the chance to showcase his skills so close to home, the electric guard may be poised to earn a roster spot with Santa Cruz at the end of training camp.
Gardner embarked on an open tryout circuit earlier this fall, in an effort to stick in the minds of NBA D-League personnel, and Gardner did just that. He was selected last Friday in the seventh round of the NBADL draft by the Santa Cruz Warriors.
The 5-foot-8 (according to Gardner), lightning quick guard took part in a workout schedule leading up the NBA draft which included sessions with Tony Snell (20th overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft), but went undrafted himself. Gardner spoke with DleagueDigest.com, and described his decision to try the NBA D-League route now.
“I did strongly consider the overseas route, but with me being so young, and with the NBA D-League being the second best league in the universe, I thought that this was the best time for me to get in. The pros to stay here and play in the D-League certainly outweighed the cons.” Gardner said.
If Gardner sticks with Santa Cruz at the conclusion of training camp (which is scheduled to start Thursday for Santa Cruz), the already enthusiastic and incredibly supportive Santa Cruz fans will have a local product to get behind. Gardner, who does not shy away from the camera as witnessed from his biographical YouTube series titled Kiwi Gardner: The Truth, would certainly soak up the support. In fact, when asked if he would either embrace the so-called hometown fans, or perhaps shy away from it, Gardner responded emphatically asking “Is that an actual question?”
Gardner continued, “How could I not embrace my hometown fans? I will focus on the team of course, and I’m one hundred percent focused on making the roster, but I think that any player would agree with me that playing in front of fans so close to home is truly a great thing.”
In order for Gardner to have an opportunity to play in front of the familiar faces in the Bay Area, the well-known flashy guard has worked with incredible discipline on certain parts of his game leading up to training camp. “My most important attribute is my defense, and really all that’s about is my effort. So with that said, I’ve been working hard on my physical shape and my endurance. I’ve also been working on my shot, in particular my three point shot. I recognize with the transition to a 24-second shot clock that I need to work on the speed within the game too, so I’ve been trying to do that as well.” Gardner added.
In addition to working in the gym, Gardner mentioned that he has been watching a lot of film and NBA D-League games to help him prepare. To stick out above the rest in training camp, Gardner believes that his defensive and leadership skills will have to speak volumes.
In short, Gardner said it best regarding his upcoming trip to training camp, “I don’t have any expectations, I’m just going to come in there and work my butt off.”