The lockout delayed the pro debuts of many rookies selected in June’s draft. One such player was former University of Florida and Orlando high school star Chandler Parsons.
Parsons, a second round pick of the Houston Rockets, had a long break between the Gators Elite Eight run and the start of his NBA career Monday. However, he stayed active throughout the summer and into the fall and feels prepared.
“With the shortened training camp, it was good for us to get together and get in the best shape,” said Parsons. “During the lockout, I was fortunate enough to play oversees so I was able to keep my game shape.”
That international experience was something that many first year players sought out in lieu of professional games in the U.S. Parsons found a home with Cholet, one of the top French teams.
While he was there, he saw action in three games, averaging ten points and six rebounds. The unique style of play in European basketball was something that the reigning SEC Player of the Year found beneficial.
“It’s physical, they have different rules, so it took a little time to adjust and get used to it,” said Parsons. “Just to be able to go over there and compete in five on five, playing the game, playing defense, doing all the game-like things that most guys couldn’t do during the lockout was good.”
In addition to his stint in France, the time spent back in Gainesville leading up to the start of training camp was invaluable. The instruction that continued there was just an extension of the preparation Parsons had for four years under head coach Billy Donovan.
“Everything we have been doing in training camp and every single NBA workout I went through, there was nothing I didn’t see from Coach Donovan,” said Parsons. “ He prepared me from a work ethic standpoint and a drill standpoint. I think his track record shows all the guys he has gotten to the NBA, so he obviously knows what he is doing.”
Ironically, Parsons’ first game he suited up in the NBA for was back in his hometown. The Lake Howell product won a state title in 2007 and was a first team all-state selection in his final high school season.
As he sat in his locker at Amway Center Monday, he recalled memories of growing up in Central Florida. The house he lived in throughout his youth is ten minutes from the Magic’s new building and his parents have been season ticket holders in Orlando since the franchise’s beginning.
Unfortunately for the Parsons family, they did not see their son take the court on opening night. Despite the lack of playing time, new Rockets coach and NBA legend Kevin McHale still sees a bright future for Parsons in the league.
“I think he can really play,” said McHale. “I think he is a versatile player that can play some three or some four. Really, what you see with Chandler is what you saw at Florida and it does translate to the NBA. His skillset is a skillset that is unique at his size, his ability to put the ball on the floor and do stuff.”
It echoes the thoughts of McHale that while Parsons did not lead the SEC in any statistical category during his banner senior campaign, he did everything well. With the work he has put in thus far, the next step will be to realize his talents on the professional level.
Perhaps the final lesson imparted at Florida was a winning attitude. Instead of setting individual goals, Parsons most wants to use his attributes to contribute towards Rockets victories this season.
“Honestly, I just want to win,” said Parsons. “I think we have a good chance to do that here. I just want to do whatever I can to win games, whether that is play defense, rebound, make the extra pass, or score points. I am open and available to do anything.”
Check out the full interview below with Parsons that fellow Insider Eric Lopez and myself conducted prior to the Rockets season opener against the Magic.