NEW BRITAIN - Days before declaring to play basketball at UConn as a 17-year-old, Andre Drummond stepped foot in the New Britain High School gym to take part in the Osgood Shootout.
Years later, Drummond returned to that same gym for the 25th anniversary of the Osgood basketball tournament which began Saturday.
“It was exciting to be back home in a familiar area,” Drummond said. “I haven’t been back in about four or five years. I haven’t played in this since I was 17 so you know it’s been a great experience so far. I got all of my family out here.”
Now a resident of Michigan and the centerpiece of the Detroit Pistons basketball franchise, Drummond’s accomplishments on the court have been an integral component to the Pistons success. His age and untapped potential serve as an indicator the future in Detroit looks bright.
Drummond’s sixth season in the NBA is quickly approaching. Besides his rookie campaign, Drummond has averaged a double-double in each of the past five seasons and was selected as an NBA All-Star in 2016. As a big man, he’s been a dominant post presence on the offensive end of the floor and a fearful rim protector on the defensive side of the floor.
Drummond, however, isn’t satisfied and the Osgood Shootout is a good place for him to fine tune certain parts of his game or add a new element to his style of play. In particular, that means shooting.
“As you saw I was shooting 3s, I was attacking my defender off the dribble,” Drummond said. “Free throws looked good today so all the work I’ve been putting in this past summer is starting to come out to the light.”
While his success on the court speaks for itself, off the court it is Drummond’s actions within the community that define the type of person he is.
Globally, he just finished partaking in the Basketball Without Borders program the NBA runs in different areas overseas. The program was established to spread the game of basketball while also bringing kids in troubled areas together.
Locally, Drummond just orchestrated a backpack drive for his hometown, Middletown. He donated 300 backpacks and school supplies to kids in the community. During the event, those who attended were also allowed to take pictures and get autographs from the town icon.
“Being a role model is something I really take pride in because the kids in the next generation see everything I do and they’re like sponges they take it and try to put it into their lifestyle,” Drummond said. “So I try to carry myself the right way, to show kids that if you do things the right way anything can happen.”
If the Osgood Shootout is indeed done after this year’s 25th annual tournament, it is only fitting that Drummond was on the floor where it all began for him.
“This is his area. People knew him from way back when,” tournament founder Darwin Shaw said. “My first encounter with Andre was when he was 12 years old and he was practicing with an AAU team in our gym and Andre was bigger than any of them but all they kept doing was making fun of him every time he dropped the ball. He was clumsy and hadn’t grown into his body yet and Tebucky [Jones] says to me this is the kid that’s going to make it.”
Still just 24 years old, it’s safe to say Drummond has made it.
Although the game displayed in the tournament showed the hard work on improving certain aspects of his game is paying off and the best may ahead for the 6-foot-11 center.
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or email@example.com
On Twitter: @OrencoleDan