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Patience Singleton’s first lesson as a pro

Lockout means rookie has extra time on hands

- - Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Chris Singleton was selected by the Wizards with the 18th overall pick in this spring's NBA draft. In the first of a series, Singleton shares with The Washington Times' Carla Peay his thoughts on an NBA dream put on hold and his plans for the lockout.

It's safe to say I'm not exactly where I thought I'd be right now. I'm a rookie in the NBA, at least I would be, if we weren't in a lockout right now.

So instead of participating in the NBA summer league games against other rookies, going to training camp with my new Wizards teammates, and enjoying the financial perks of my first NBA contract, I'm exactly where I was a year ago - going to school, and waiting.

The waiting, and the uncertainty, is the hardest part. As anyone who followed the NBA draft knows, I know a little something about waiting.

In my three years at Florida State, I was a two-time All-ACC and a two-time ACC defensive team selection. We made it to the NCAA tournament for three straight years. I'm a rebounder and a defensive specialist, and a lot of teams can use that, so I just felt like it was time to go to the NBA.

I declared for the draft, and I had some pretty good predraft workouts, especially the one for the Wizards. There was talk that they would take me with the sixth overall pick, so I was pretty hopeful on draft night.

But the Wizards took Jan Vesely at six, and I just kept waiting.

I remember being pretty anxious that night. I kind of wanted to get it over with, and just hear my name called. You wait for this night for years, and then you get there, and you have to wait some more.

Yeah, I was a little surprised that I didn't get picked until 18. I remember saying something on draft night about remembering the teams that passed on me, that they could expect a little payback, but I think I ended up in a pretty good situation with the Wizards. I had a good feeling after my workout. I think this will be a good spot for me.

We have a lot of good young talent, and the future is bright for us. I felt like I was welcomed here in D.C. with open arms and I think Washington is a good city. But I only got to experience that "I'm in the NBA" excitement for 10 days, and then we were locked out.

I wasn't surprised, none of us was. My agent kept me informed all along so I knew what was coming. But it's still a tough thing to have your future in limbo. So, I just spent my summer doing what I probably would have done anyway.

I do two-a-day workouts to stay in shape, and I've worked out with some of my Wizards teammates - John [Wall] and Nick [Young] and JaVale [McGee] and Shelvin [Mack]. We all worked out together a couple of times when we were in Los Angeles, but it can be tough to get everybody's schedule together. But I think being with my future Wizards teammates gave me a good feeling about the future.

John is a good dude. He's willing to work, and he has a big future ahead of him. He's a leader. I think if we all stay together, we can push past the what the Wizards have been in the past.

I don't think the Wizards have the respect of a lot of people in D.C., so we have to take our game to another level. I'm positive we can turn things around, but mentally, we have to be there.

I know the gossip about what some of these guys have been doing off the court, and frankly, some people need to grow up a little and eliminate some of that. But over time, we will develop our chemistry, and we'll make the city of D.C. proud of us.

But, until we the lockout ends, we're all just waiting.

So, if I have to wait, I'm going to put my time to good use. I'm going back to FSU to finish my degree. I start classes Monday, and I'm taking a full load, 12 hours. I have a major in social sciences with a minor in business. It'll take me about a year to get my degree. I have 27 hours to go.

I think the business degree will help me with my side venture as well. I started my own clothing line, Doughpe Clothing. We have a website, doughpeclothing.com, and we launch in October. The whole thing started because I designed some T-shirts for our team at FSU. My teammates liked them, and one of them suggested I start a clothing line.

Having another way to make a living is a pretty good idea right now.

I know a lot of guys are talking about going overseas to play, but I'm not thinking about it. Right now, getting my degree is more important to me. But for a lot of guys, if they can find a good situation with an out clause, it could be a good option. People talk about what happens if you go over there and get hurt, but every time you step on a court, you could get hurt, so I don't think guys are really worrying about that.

I stay on top of the lockout news. Basketball is a major part of my life, but until there's an agreement, I still have to get on with my life.

As a rookie, I know my voice can only go so far, but if I could say one thing to David Stern and union chief Billy Hunter it would be to get this lockout over with.

There are a lot of people out of jobs in this economy, not just NBA players. There are a lot of people who depend on the league to make a living besides players, and I don't know how long we cannot play and not hurt the fans and hurt our sport.

I know the two sides are far apart, but I'm optimistic that we will have a season.