On the basketball court, Devyn Marble normally has been the most unflappable of competitors, one of those players who doesn’t allow anything to alter his façade.
But when he edged a step closer to realizing his dream very late Thursday night, even he was unable to maintain the mask.
“It was pretty emotional,’’ Marble said on a teleconference shortly after being selected by the Orlando Magic with the 56th pick in the waning minutes of the NBA draft. “I’m not an emotional guy but I was just so happy to have come this far. There’s been so much hard work put into it. I don’t think people fully understand how much work it took for me to get to this position. It kind of poured out all at once.''
Marble reiterated those thoughts in a news conference in Orlando on Friday, calling the night "surreal.
“When I did hear my name called I couldn’t hold it together …'' he admitted. "Your emotions just flow through you.’’
Marble gathered with about two dozen friends and family members at a sports bar in his hometown of Southfield in suburban Detroit to watch the draft on television. The entire Iowa coaching staff was there along with teammates Melsahn Basabe and Anthony Clemmons.
But it turned out to be a very long night. Marble watched several foreign players he’d never even heard of get selected through the middle stages of the second round until there were only five picks left in the draft.
The ESPN board on the screen said that Denver had the 56th pick, but the Nuggets had traded the selection to Orlando earlier in the day.
Marble knew about the trade. He heard first from his agent, former Hawkeye B.J. Armstrong, that he was going to be picked by Orlando. Then he heard from the Magic themselves.
“At first I was just happy and felt blessed to be taken off the board,’’ he said. “The Orlando Magic is a great organization. They’ve got some talent. I just think it’s a great spot for me.’’
Marble confessed that he grew nervous as the evening wore on.
“I was pretty confident I was going to get picked but I thought I would go higher,’’ he said. “As the clock was winding down I was sitting there thinking ‘What’s going on?’’’
Marble spent most of the past six weeks in Los Angeles working out with other draft hopefuls, but he also traveled around the country to do individual workouts for 15 different teams.
The Magic was not one of them.
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“I did not work out for Orlando, but I knew they had some interest in me,’’ he said. “I just felt like their draft position didn’t line up with where I expected to be picked so we didn’t do a workout with them. But I knew they were a team that was interested.’’
The 6-foot-7 Marble played three different positions while scoring 1,694 points in his Iowa career and Iowa coach Fran McCaffery thought some teams would want him as an oversized point guard. He apparently will be a wing player in Orlando.
The Magic, who were only 23-59 last season, selected Elfrid Payton with the 10th pick in the first round — the result of another trade — and acquired Evan Fournier in the same trade in which they got the 56th pick. Both of them are point guards.
“They haven’t told me yet what they have planned for me, but I think most teams felt like I was a two or a three,’’ Marble said. “They know my versatility as a wing player and they viewed me more that way than as a point guard.’’
After he was selected and the party had begun, Marble said he shared a moment with McCaffery, who said "it is a highlight in anybody's coaching career to see one of the guys you love get his name called."
“It was cool,’’ Marble said. “He just embraced me, gave me a hug and said he was proud of me and that this is just one step.’’
Marble flew to Orlando on Friday morning and went through a news conference with Payton and Arizona forward Aaron Gordon, who was selected by the Magic with the fourth overall pick.
“We’re just going to come out and compete,'' he told the Florida reporters. " With the guys they picked yesterday, I think everything we have in common is that we’re going to compete and play defense. I think if we do those two things on a nightly basis, we’ll be alright.’’