Developing pro game is Jeffers’ goal

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Like every other player, Washington Wizards forward Othyus Jeffers has been finding ways to stay busy during the NBA lockout. He is rehabbing from an ACL injury suffered July 17 during a workout, while navigating those dreaded orange cones.

He’s also been traveling, spending time with his family in Chicago, and getting involved with community service.

“I’ve been going to different schools in the Chicago area and speaking to kids,” Jeffers said.

Jeffers was a star for the NBA Developmental League’s Iowa Energy before being called up to the Wizards last year. After making it to the NBA the hard way, he has a few inspirational stories to tell.

If healthy, Jeffers would be playing in the D-League instead of sitting through a lockout, but he says there’s no comparison as to where he’d rather be.

“I’m an NBA player now,” Jeffers said. “I’ve done my time in the D-League.”

Jeffers signed two 10-day contracts with the Wizards in March, then signed a deal that took him through the end of the season. Before the lockout, the Wizards made Jeffers a qualifying offer, making him a restricted free agent.

Jeffers played in 16 games, averaging 5.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 13 minutes. Topping his NBA highlight reel is a 15-point performance against the Miami Heat on March 20, his first double-figure scoring game.

Wizards coach Flip Saunders referred to Jeffers, complimentarily, as one of his “junkyard dogs” for the hustle, effort and energy Jeffers brought. As Saunders told it, he was contacted by the Energy coach as to when he could have Jeffers back, to which he responded, “He just scored 15 points against the Heat. You can’t have him back.”

Said Jeffers, with an amused tone: “I’d say I helped us make some improvements by the end of the season.”

Already known by his Wizards teammates, and well as his former D-League squad for his outgoing personality and sense of humor, Jeffers showed mock disbelief when named last year to the All-NBA D-League’s second team.

“Second team? Second team?” Jeffers said, drawing laughter in the Wizards‘ locker room at the end of last season.

Jeffers has kept in touch with a few of his teammates, particularly Jordan Crawford and Trevor Booker, and said he’s enjoyed watching John Wall light up the summer league circuit. When the lockout ends, Jeffers said he’s excited about what the Wizards will look like.

“We made some key pickups in the draft. We added two good big men [Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton] and a good guard [Shelvin Mack] to play with John,” Jeffers said. “We had some tough times last season, but we have some good guys on the team. I thought we made a nice turnaround near the end of the season. I felt like we really became a team.”

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