On draft night, Myles Powell prepared the way you might expect for the Big East Player of the Year, the Jerry West Award winner as the top shooting guard in college basketball and a first team All-American to do. He posted Instagram shots of his outfit he’d selected in this pandemic-shifted scene and the spread of food set out for family and friends as they settled in to watch.
But as the teams sifted through 60 selections Powell, who had been the leader for Seton Hall, was not called. Before the night was out though he was coming to terms on a deal with the Knicks, an Exhibit 10 deal that likely will start his time in the G League. But as he has made his way through the early part of camp he is undeterred that his time will come.
"My family helped me keep my head," said Powell, who averaged 21 points and 2.9 assists as a 6-2 combo guard. "I turned the page real quickly. This is my story. I’ve always kind of been the underdog. I needed that. They say sometimes in life when you get things handed to you, you take it for granted. I’m blessed to be in this situation. A kid coming from Trenton, I shouldn’t be here anyway. I know there’s a lot of kids in Jersey and family looking up to me, I just want to keep being that role model people keep looking up to.
"The goal is to always get a roster spot. But I came in telling the organization, whatever they needed me to do, I was willing to do. If that’s staying in the G League a little bit, if that’s what they think is best for my career, then that’s what I’m going to do. I’m a kid that listens and I get better. I come in every day with the same mindset that today I’m going to get better than I was yesterday."
He averaged 23.1 points per game as a junior, converting 36.3 percent from beyond the arc. His final two seasons featured former Knick J.R. Smith often in the front row at the Prudential Center to cheer Powell on. But he still needs to define a role. He has been a gifted scorer, but with his size some evaluators have said he needs to become more of a classic point guard. Powell said that he has been watching film of San Antonio’s Patty Mills and learning from him. Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau believes he has a fit in the NBA.
"When we look at the point guard position it’s being redefined in some ways," Thibodeau said. "We’re seeing a lot of scoring point guards. And so you also look at a guy like Derrick Rose when I had him in Chicago, he combined both power, speed and he was an attacking guy going downhill. I think Russell Westbrook was similar. … When you look at all the point guards now in the league most of them are scoring point guards that are very effective in pick and rolls."