With the recent reports that the Portland Trail Blazers are interested in calling up a point guard, I decided to catch up with the top option in the D-League, Rio Grande Valley's Will Conroy. Standing at 6-foot-2 out of the University of Washington, Conroy has already received a call-up this season from the Houston Rockets and is said on the short list for the Blazers, according to Beyond The Beat's Wendell Maxey.
Conroy is averaging 14.1 points, 9.4 assists and 5.6 rebounds in 16 D-League games this season, leading his Vipers to a 12-4 record while he's in the lineup. In his most recent game, Conroy scored 21 points and dished 14 assists while becoming the first D-League player to score 3,000 points in his career.RU: First, what was the motivation to come back to the D-League this year?
: My decision to come back to the D-League this season was a very long and thought out process. At first, I felt that after last year their was nothing else I could prove in this league, but after speaking with the Rockets staff and management, I changed my mind.
They felt that I was a for sure NBA player that was ready to contribute, and that it was very tough decision releasing me on the last day of cuts. They also told me I would be their number one option if a point guard went down so I thought if I were to come back it would probably suit me better to be under the Rockets umbrella considering their direct affiliation with RGV.
RU: After putting up great numbers last year in Albuquerque, but not receiving a call-up, what was the decision making process like to come back to the D-League instead of making more money overseas?
WC: It was tough leaving Albuquerque and coach [John] Coffino and [assistant] Darvin Ham, but they were very understanding and helped the process go through smoothly. I almost went to China, though - I was like hours away from signing - but I felt this was the best chance for to get back up to the NBA. The money will come eventually, but I'm very goal oriented.
RU: Have you been in contact with the Rockets since your 10-day contract earlier this season?
WC: Yes, I have spoken with the Rockets a few times since being back in RGV. It seems that I'm still very high on their list and I just have to stay ready.
RU: How have you changed your game this season, if at all?
WC: I really wanted to prove that I'm a pass first point guard with the ability to score and the ability to grab rebounds. So my focus isn't scoring 20 anymore, it is winning while getting everyone involved.
RU: Currently there are rumors that the Portland Trailblazers are looking for a backup point guard to help out their possible playoff push. Can you tell me if you or your agents have had any contact with the Blazers?
WC: Yes, I've heard my named linked to a couple Blazer conversations, but you know how that goes - Until it happens it's just speculation. It does feel good whenever you hear things like "your name is one of a handful of guys on a shortlist for an nba organization," especially in the Northwest because I was born in Portland, Oregon and lived there until I was 8 and I have a lot family there.
RU: What do you feel you could bring to a team like the Blazers?
WC: I think I could bring some solid back up minutes to Andre Miller and Jerryd Bayless. I'd also be able to give Bayless a chance to play off the ball where he seems real effective. I'm a basketball junkie, I watch like every team play on league pass, so I'm pretty familiar with the Blazers.
Also, Brandon Roy and I are still close and we text before and after every game. We've played a lot together, both in high school and at Washington together and I'm sure that would help the transition for me to learn the system very quickly.
I'd like to thank Will for answering my sloppily asked questions - it's honestly not as easy as you'd imagine to interview a top D-League prospect one day removed from having have your gallbladder, well, removed.
If you have any questions for Conroy, please leave them in the comments and I'll do my best to get them answered.