Pacers eye monopoly on Hansbroughs
JUL 06, 2012 12:34p ET
You hear it in the voice, some of the same inflections, the same preference for minimalism when it comes to self-expression.
There are obvious similarities between Ben and Tyler Hansbrough, but the differences are what the younger brother is working to overcome.
Tyler stands 6-9 and was one of the most prolific big men in the history of college basketball, winning a national championship at North Carolina, becoming a lottery pick of the Indiana Pacers and heading straight into a successful NBA career.
Ben stands 6-3, had a more modest career divided between two college programs, and went undrafted despite being the Big East Player of the Year in 2010-11, averaging 18.4 points, 4.3 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.2 steals for Notre Dame. After bouncing around Europe for a year, he is back in Indianapolis for the Pacers' rookie and free-agent camp.
"He's got that Hansbrough motor," Coach Frank Vogel said. "We're looking at him in a point-guard role and at 6-3 he's got good size for the point-guard spot. He's got a great feel for the game and really can stroke the basketball. We're looking to see what he looks like in our system running that point guard spot."
Bad luck contributed to Hansbrough's absence from the 2011 Draft. During a private workout in Indianapolis the week before the NBA Combine, he sustained a severely sprained ankle. It not only kept him from participating in the combine, it limited his effectiveness when he was able to work out individually for NBA teams.
The lingering effect of the injury also contributed to his struggles in Europe. He played sparingly with a team in Munich, Germany. After being released in December, he signed with a team in Slovenia but left within a month.
Now, finally healthy, he hopes to make good on this second chance.
"This is the best I've felt health-wise since my senior year at Notre Dame, absolutely," Hansbrough said. "It limited me. I was trying to guard and go through all these workouts with kind of a flat tire on one side but I'm glad to be healthy again, play basketball again and have an opportunity with the Pacers."
The Pacers have two solid veteran point guards in George Hill and Darren Collison, but they are casting about for a solid No. 3 option. That role was filled last season by A.J. Price, an unrestricted free agent.
"I think I bring a lot of different abilities — my ability to get to the bucket, pass, penetrate, shoot, make tough plays — basically do the same things I did while I was at Notre Dame, show off that and hopefully things work out for the best," Hansbrough said. "I need to show my point-guard ability, making shots, being able to find people and running the team like a point guard should."
Among the 13 players on the summer camp roster are veterans Lance Stephenson and Jeff Pendergraph and draft picks Miles Plumlee (No. 26 overall from Duke) and Orlando Johnson (acquired from Sacramento after being taken at No. 36).
A handful of the players were with the Pacers' last summer league team two summers ago, including forwards Jarrid Famous, Matt Rogers and Tyren Johnson and guard Chris Kramer.
"The guys that we're familiar with that are back, you want to see how they've grown, see if they've developed a little more from the last time they were here with us," Vogel said. "But maybe more importantly when you're trying to evaluate a Plumlee or a Stephenson or a Pendergraph or an Orlando Johnson, you want to have guys around them that you trust, that have seen your system and have been in your system a little bit to help with the learning curve. Everybody coming together as a team creates the best environment to evaluate your guys."
The Pacers will practice in Bankers Life Fieldhouse through Sunday before heading to the Orlando Pro Summer League, where they'll play five games in five days July 9-13.
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