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Rookie Run

Photos by Ryan Mueller

January 2014

"Get off the court, Nate." Those five words spoken by Bucks assistant coach Scott Williams sum up why Nate Wolters is in the NBA in the first place and has been a pleasant surprise in his rookie season. The squad had just completed a practice and was getting ready to fly to Philadelphia in a couple of hours. While the rest of his teammates were cleaning up to head for the airport, Wolters, as always, was the last player still out on the hardwood, working on his shot.

Wolters, a high school star in his native St. Cloud, Minn., was not heavily recruited by college programs and signed at then-unheralded South Dakota State. But Wolters led the Jackrabbits to two consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and was drafted in the second round by Washington last June, then traded twice on draft day, to Philadelphia and ultimately Milwaukee. At every level of the game, Wolters has had to prove he belongs.

MC: Did you ever think youíd be in the starting lineup for an NBA team?

NW: No way. My goal was just to make the NBA. We had a lot of injuries (point guards Brandon Knight and Luke Ridnour were sidelined early in the season) that have allowed me to get a lot of opportunities. I think it will help me down the road.

MC: Whatís the biggest difference between college and pro ball?

NW: Just the speed and athleticism. Iím still adjusting to it ó the gameís going pretty fast. Plus the overall size. (Knicks center) Tyson Chandler blocked my shot in the first game a couple of times. You have 7-footers here instead of 6-7, 6-8 guys.

MC: Are you the definitive "gym rat?"

NW: Yeah, definitely. I think it kind of helped me to get to this point. Iím not the most athletic guy. I wasnít really recruited much in high school or college and nothingís been really handed to me.


This story ran in the January 2014  issue of: