BUFFALO, NEW YORK - Billy Baron and Canisius were not married long. But it was a match perfect for both parties.
"Canisius taking, as bad as they needed us, we needed, me and my father needed them," Baron said on the phone. "And me personally, I needed them extremely bad and I'm glad they took me in."
Baron played two seasons for the Griffs. It was the third stop in his collegiate career after transferring from Virginia then Rhode Island.
"It was extremely tough, especially that second time transferring," Baron said. "It's never fun. It's a big transition period and it challenges you mentally. I know I put my head down and I got on the court and worked even harder, but mentally it really challenged myself to be ultra confident."
Confidence should be high for Baron. He leaves Canisius as the MAAC Player of the Year and an Honorable Mention All-American. He finished this past season fourth in the nation in scoring at 24.1 points per game.
That resume helped Baron earn looks from NBA scouts. Every team in the league was represented at a workout he held out in Los Angeles, California. And over the past month or so, he's had private workouts with the Spurs, Cavs, Bulls, Hawks, Jazz, Bucks, Knicks, Rockets, Wizards, and Pistons. And in each of those workouts, Baron gets to showcase his skills against players from the power conferences.
"I normally don't get those opportunities at Canisius during the season," Baron said. "So it's important for me to do that to show what I can do against those guys because those are the guys who I need to get over that hump to make it. I got to show these teams I can do more than one thing. I can do more than score the ball or the way I score. I'm not just a three-point shooter. I can get to the hoop. And it's important to do that against that level of athletes."
There is more to the workouts than what you do on the court. Teams have questioned Baron about transferring twice and how he will accept a possible bench role. That is where Billy's game turns verbal.
"They sit you down and you're in front of the front office," Baron said. "You're in front of coaches. So you have to rep yourself extremely well. You got to be a pro in those interviews. And you have to make them feel comfortable to eventually, hopefully take you. And it's not just making shots. It's the interviews, it's how you answer questions and how you carry yourself as a person."
Baron's heard he is sitting as a second round pick on some teams draft boards. But if he is not selected Thursday, he is not giving up on his NBA dream.
"If I don't hear my name called, I'll go to summer league and hook onto a training camp, hopefully," Baron said. "There's always a way to get into the NBA that way. It's not just hearing your name on Thursday is the only way in. But that would be pretty cool to do that. And honestly, it'd be really cool to do it for the school. To get them that publicity, that notoriety, because they deserve it."
The NBA Draft takes place Thursday night.