Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 8/1/12
In the summer of 2005, Bill Bayno was trying to break into the NBA. He was scouting college players for the Portland Trail Blazers, paying his dues to enter the highest tier of basketball after coaching in college and overseas. Bayno, now an assistant coach with the Minnesota Timberwolves, was given the task of scouting on the West Coast for the Trail Blazers. That summer, Gonzaga's Adam Morrison was the talk of scouting circles as he entered his senior season. But instead of focusing his energy solely on Morrison, Bayno decided to compile his own group of players to watch. He made a list of criteria, looking for players with good size for their positions and who might have the potential for a breakout year. Two University of Washington players topped his list: Bobby Jones and Brandon Roy. Now, seven years after Bayno first began to scout those players, Morrison exists on the fringes of the NBA. He's never stuck in the league after being drafted third overall, though he was impressive at Las Vegas Summer League in what might have been his final shot at a successful pro career in the United States. Jones, whom the Timberwolves drafted 37th overall that year, hasn't played in the NBA since 2008. Roy, who turned out to be the gem of the bunch, is about to launch his comeback after an early retirement in 2011 due to chronic knee problems. If he can do all that he's said he can, he's set to prove Bayno's instincts correct one last time. Bayno sat down with FOX Sports North to discuss what he's learned about Roy over the years. FSN: What did scouting Brandon in college entail, and how much did that shape your relationship going forward? BAYNO: I went in September when school had started to watch them in preseason workouts. You can derive a lot out of the college coach, watch them in the weight room, watch their individual drills, watch them play pick-up. I was just blown away by Brandon. He won every single game. He played every game like it mattered, and I saw a lot of the characteristics that he showed in the NBA. He didn't always use it, but when he decided to explode he had an incredible vertical jump. He had easily a 40-inch vertical jump. He shot the ball well. He played like a point guard at 6-6, and he really did everything. At the time, we had him rated as like a mid-second-rounder. I called (interim Portland coach) Kevin Pritchard after three days. I said, "Look, this kid is really special. I think he's a first-round pick, and I think he's our guy. Let's continue to follow him and watch him." He had a breakout year. It was an unbelievable season, and the rest is history. I shared that story with Brandon when he got there the next year. I was moved into a coaching position, and we started a friendship from there and spent a lot of time working together. I always had so much respect for him as a person, and I always told him I thought he was one of the best human beings I had ever been around or ever coached. FSN: How involved were you in the process of working Brandon out and exploring his possibilities with the team this summer? BAYNO: He called me up this summer and was coming into L.A. to do these knee injections (Regenokine) and asked me if I'd work him out. I said absolutely. (Timberwolves president) David Kahn happened to be there with (assistant coach) R.J. Adelman, and they watched him work out. They were really impressed, and they started the ball rolling from there. I talked to (coach) Rick (Adelman) after and he asked me what I saw. I said that I saw a different player from the guy that retired. His last year, he still had something left, but he wasn't anywhere near what he was the year before when his knees were healthier. I saw better explosion. I saw that quick first step. I'm not going to say he's the same, but he's close, and he certainly was much, much better than the last time I had seen him. Rick was always impressed with him because he coached against him, and he saw what Brandon could do. FSN: You mentioned the procedure, Regenokine, that Brandon had on his knees. What are your thoughts on it? BAYNO: This new procedure is revolutionary. Kobe (Bryant, who had the same procedure) looked like he was 25 years old again last year. He was jumping and moving and I even tried to push Brandon into going to Germany and getting that procedure done over there. (Roy had the same procedure as Bryant but with a different doctor.) FSN: You were there to watch Brandon's career as it declined due to injuries in Portland. How precipitous was his decline? Did it seem to happen all at once after a surgery or to taper over time? BAYNO: After his last surgery, he really had very little cartilage left, if any. So it was very hard for him to stop on a dime and to really get in the paint and explode like he used to. He could still get by his man, and he could still get his jump shot off. When I heard he retired, I just assumed that he was done. I think (the comeback) was just something that Brandon was thinking about, but I just assumed he couldn't go anymore. FSN: And have some of those physical issues changed now? BAYNO: Working him out this summer, I saw he wasn't afraid to put on the brakes. He really attacked the rim. He's still not going to finish like he used to with 40 inches on his vertical (jump), but you can tell that the injections worked. Really, the most important thing was that in three days of going two hours (each day) with very little rest, he had no pain and no swelling. We're hoping that holds up over 82 games, but I guess time will tell. FSN: It seems that in addition to his skills on the court, Brandon possesses the ability to lead a team and be a force in the locker room. How much did that play into your desire to have him on the team? BAYNO: Yes, because we do need leadership. Brandon's older. He's wiser. With that comes more knowledge, and I think our young guys need that. I've been working with Derrick Williams this summer, and I told Brandon earlier that I wanted him to really try to spend some quality time to make a concerted effort to mentor D-Will and show him how to be a pro. He said he would, and I think Brandon's going to help everybody. He's more of a quiet leader. He's not the rah-rah, vocal type, but he'll speak when he needs to. He really leads by example. Just having his presence in the locker room I think is going to help all our young guys. FSN: Brandon has said that he was attracted to the Timberwolves because the team didn't immediately put restrictions on what it would let him do. What do you think he's capable of? Do you think he will need to be pulled back? BAYNO: I think one thing about Coach Adelman, why players around the league speak so highly of him, is because he lets guys play. He's pretty laid-back. I think the minutes (restriction), that'll take care of itself. I don't think Rick's going to try to impose anything on Brandon. I think we'll look at how he feels after back-to-backs, and Rick will analyze Brandon's performance and talk to him and see how he feels. He'll give him the freedom to play as many minutes as he's physically capable of. I love Brandon as a person and a player, and we needed him. We need somebody in that position that can make plays with the ball. I'm excited. I think we've got a chance to be really good and to be much better than we were last year. Follow Joan Niesen on Twitter.
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