Vanderbeken prepares for professional hoops career


Photo: Bryan Langfeldt/Iowa State Daily

Jamie Vanderbeken attempts to work around the Oklahoma defense Saturday. The Cyclones lost their fourth-straight game at home 82-76.

Dan Tracy

MINNEAPOLIS — Jamie Vanderbeken is a realist.

Sixty names will be called in this year’s NBA draft. Unless his draft stock skyrockets between now and June 23rd, the name of the former ISU center won’t be among them.

“If I can land on an NBA team that’d be great, but I’m a realist, and with my style of play I’m more likely going to play overseas. But hey, I’m going to bust my butt until a decision comes,” Vanderbeken said following his workout in Minneapolis on Sunday.

At the first of three pre-draft workouts to be held at the Life Time Fitness facility in the Target Center, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ home arena, Vanderbeken and five other NBA hopefuls — Jacob Pullen from Kansas State, Blake Hoffarber from Minnesota, Paul Carter from the University of Illinois-Chicago, Cameron Hodges from Minnesota State-Mankato and Andrew Albicy from France — competed in a variety of individual and team drills under the direction of the Timberwolves coaching staff.

The 6-foot-11-inch Vanderbeken, who as a Cyclone was known primarily for his perimeter shooting, averaged 11.1 points and drained 42.5 percent of his 3-pointers last season, the fourth-best three-point field goal percentage in the Big 12. In the NBA, however, players of Vanderbeken’s height usually roam near the basket — something that Vanderbeken needs to get better at if he wants to continue his basketball career.

“I’m not gonna lie to anyone and say that I’m a big banger. That’s definitely not me, but I’m willing to work on whatever aspect of my game that I need to,” Vanderbeken said.

Members of the media were allowed to view the final portion of the workout, which featured a three-on-three scrimmage. During the scrimmage, Vanderbeken guarded the 6-foot-8-inch Carter and was instructed on numerous occasions to run a pick-and-roll with Albicy. Afterward, Vanderbeken admitted that he was much less familiar with the pick-and-roll than other post players. He said he’d learned to retreat to the three-point line after setting a pick rather than rolling to the basket.

“I came in here with really no expectations or anything — just to go out and play my game. I think I could have played a little better out there, but I left it all out there on the floor, and that’s about all I can do,” Vanderbeken said.

Vanderbeken listed his post presence, his conditioning and the need to extend his shooting range from the NCAA to the NBA three-point shot distance as his main pre-draft concerns. He will be traveling out to Las Vegas, Nev. later this week to begin training at the Impact Basketball facility with other draft prospects.

In case he is not picked in the NBA draft and does receive an offer to play overseas, the Belleville, Ontario native may cross the Atlantic. He thinks his pick-and-pop shooting may be better suited to the European style of play.

If he does go to Europe, Vanderbeken has little cause to fear culture shock: he played in Milan, Italy as a teenager and learned a bit of French at Iowa State.

“I did take some French classes [at Iowa State] but come two months from now I probably won’t remember any of it,” Vanderbeken said. “I like different cultures, though and it’s a different style of basketball.”

If he goes undrafted, Vanderbeken’s next step will be to play for the Canadian national team. The team’s training camp will begin in Toronto on July 15. It is scheduled to participate in camps in Italy and the Czech Republic, as well as a summer tournament in Argentina.

The 2011 NBA Draft will begin 6 p.m. June 23 in Newark, New Jersey