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John Petrucelli Works His Way From Division II To NBA Call-Up Candidate

John Petrucelli’s improvements during the summer led him to a breakout season, which catapulted him to being an NBA call-up candidate.

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There may be little precipitation in Florida during the winter, but it was raining nearly on a nightly basis in Lakeland. The Magic were the top three-point shooting team in the G League and John Petrucelli was one of the rain makers in Lakeland during the 2018-19 season.

After shooting 32.1 percent in his rookie season and 26.8 percent during his sophomore campaign, the 6’4” guard focused on improving his shot. Let’s rewind a little bit back to the summer of 2018 where he worked on dissecting his form and where he could be confident with the adjustment he made.

“I put up a lot, a lot of shots up. It wasn’t just reps,” Petrucelli told Ridiculous Upside. “I think it was really dissecting what my form was and I found something that not only worked for me, but that I could be confident in all the time. It wasn’t like I would miss a shot and try to adjust something. I was confident in the adjustment that was already made and I think that really worked for me.”

“I found that in the summer time and then repped that out hundreds and hundreds of times in the summer,” he continued. “By the time I got to training camp, I was real confident. My strength coach from Lakeland, Haseeb Fasihi, he actually even I don’t want to say tweaked it but refined it even a little bit more to make it even more sharper than what I did in the summertime and then we just repped that out all season. And again it’s really for me it was more of a confidence thing in my form and I think I found something that really really worked for me. I think that’s what really helped.”

When his fifth season came rolling around, Petrucelli had a decision to make on where to continue his professional career. The Molloy product opted to return to the G League for a third season and had a feeling he could have done more, which would have made an impact on his future.

“I knew that there was more I could have done,” he said. “I went from shooting high 20’s my first two years from the three-point line. I was averaging maybe anywhere from 7 to 8 points a game and I knew I was able to get my numbers up. I knew if I got my numbers up, it would open eyes up in the NBA, open up eyes for Summer League, and get my worth up overseas. I took on that challenge and made that decision in the summer time and I think it was really the best decision I could have made. I had a lot of confidence in myself going into this year that I was able to do that at that level.”

Despite starting off with a 10-9 record, Lakeland put their foot on the pedal and showed to be a high level team in the second half of the season. The Magic won 22 of their final 31 games, while 13 of those were double digit victories.

“We were pretty young coming in,” Petrucelli said. “We had a lot of guys fresh out of college. With that, when you’re coming from college to the NBA, it’s a whole different game. The spacing is different. The rotations are different. There’s a defensive three seconds, so you can’t be stuck in there. You have to do your rotation. There’s just a rhythm thing that you have to get and we knew that. The older guys kind of knew that’s what it was. The front office, Adetunji (Adedipe), Anthony Parker and Stan Heath, as our head coach. They all knew that we were going to be all right. It was just a transition period. Those first like 15 to 20 games. Once we really figured it out and got everybody on the same page, we really got it rolling.”

The adjustments made by Petrucelli were evident throughout his fifth professional season. After growing his game tremendously since year one, he started to make a name for himself as a call-up candidate. He played an integral role on one of the top teams in the G League that had the best season as the Orlando Magic’s G League affiliate (Erie BayHawks and Lakeland Magic). Despite the tough ending, Petrucelli felt it was still a great season and the team had reasons to be proud.

“I think that last shot obviously was tough and it left a bitter taste for us,” Petrucelli said. “I think that we have a lot to be proud of coming from where we were starting the year to ending where we were at. There were a couple of mistakes that we know that we made throughout the game that it shouldn’t have even gotten to that point. We were up 12 or something like that with a couple minutes left and they went on a run.”

“They were a great, great team,” he continued. “I can’t take anything away from them. But it’s something that we do wish that we can have back. But in the long run, it’s really not that big of a deal. Those type of things happen. If you watch the NBA Finals like guys are hitting game winners all the time, so it happens. You live. You learn from it and you move on and continue to get better.”

Petrucelli wrapped up his fifth season by putting his name on the map. He made significant strides in game and became a main contributor on one of the top teams in the G League. Through his stellar play, he became an NBA call-up candidate and could get an extended look in Summer League. It’s been a hell of a journey for the former Division II player going from Molloy to being on the cusp of the NBA.

“I went from not one scholarship offer besides Molloy late in my senior year in April,” Petrucelli said. “No D-IIs or D-IIIs would even look at me, let alone Division I schools. I never got to go on a visit. I never got a letter from a coach interested in having me come and play for them. Even throughout college was great. I had a great college, but getting overseas was hard. Teams didn’t want to take a chance on a D-II guy.”

“I worked my way in the G League where I did a local tryout and I was an inactive player,” he continued. “I didn’t get paid. I didn’t dress. I didn’t travel for the first couple of games. I worked my way up from that, so I’ve never been handed anything and I kind of like that. It’s put a chip on my shoulder my whole career and it’s allowed me to really continue to work for what I’ve gotten and where I’m at and continue to strive to get better, so I rather have it that way than to be handed everything. It will change your work ethic a little bit. I think my work ethic comes from the journey that I’ve had.”

Petrucelli has come a long way in the past three seasons. His journey has been filled with many Kodak moments. He is working his way up each rung on the ladder and continues to surpass each goal he has in place, while continuing to establish new ones.

“Looking back to see where I’m at right now; if you told me three years ago, I would believe it because I know my work ethic,” he detailed. “But I would think that it would be an incredible journey. There’s more that I want to accomplish. I don’t really get too much joy from it. Every time I get somewhere, I set new goals. So as long as I keep climbing the ladder with my career, that’s really where I get my satisfaction.”