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June 28, 2012In order to get back where he wants to be - on an NBA team's active roster - former Iowa State forward Craig Brackins has come back home. Well, at least to his residence for three years while he was a star player for the Cyclones.
For the second consecutive season, the 6-foot-10 forward experienced much of his success playing in the NBA's Developmental League, averaging 18.9 points and 9.3 rebounds in seven games with the Maine Red Claws.
The brief run was sandwiched between two stints with the Philadelphia 76ers, where he was a little used reserve. When the dust settled on his second professional season, Brackins played in just 14 games and posted averages of 1.6 points and 1.1 rebounds in 6.3 minutes per contest.
In January, 76ers management opted not to pick up Brackins' option, making him a free agent at the end of the season. To prepare for another run at the NBA, Brackins has returned to Central Iowa to work out with former teammates and current Cyclone players. CycloneReport.com caught up with Brackins this week for a question-and-answer session.
Cyclone Report: Why are you back in Ames to prepare for the next move of your pro career?
Brackins: I just came out here to continue working out and help some of the guys at Iowa State. It's gone real well so far. I just came out here to isolate myself, come back to Iowa and be around some of these guys that I've played with. I know (Chris) Babb, Royce (White), and D.G. (Diante Garrett) is back.
We kind of planned coming back and working out together. We play five-on-five and battle, so it's fun. We work out together and push each other to get better. It's just being around the people that I started and really took my basketball game to the next level with.
CR: Go through Philadelphia's decision not to pick up your option.
Brackins: I already knew what was going to happen because they didn't pick up my option in January. It's just how the business works. It's not one of those things where it was a surprise I got cut. There was nothing bad about the Sixers, it's just my option didn't get picked up. Now I'm a free agent that can get picked up by whoever.
CR: What's the next step in your return to the NBA?
Brackins: The summer league is July 5-9 in Orlando, so I'll be reporting for that on July 1. I'm staying shape until I have to go to summer league. There are a couple teams interested, so I need to have a good summer and see who I sign with. I need to do what I can do to put a stamp on that.
CR: How much of a role will your performance there play into the decisions teams make on free agents?
Brackins: To have a great summer league would be huge, because other teams will talk to my agent and give out offers. If I don't sign with a team, I could go to the one in Vegas and play more if I didn't show enough. Hopefully it's just Orlando and then I'll be done.
CR: What are you looking to prove to NBA teams?
Brackins: I need to show that I still have it - my scoring ability, that I can play defense, can run the floor and am athletic. I'll see who can use those skills. I feel like I have a lot to offer, being a stretch-four that's pretty versatile. I need to show my defense and things I've worked on over the summer.
CR: You played with the Sixers late in the season and were on the roster when the team made the postseason. How much do you take from that experience?
Brackins: It was good to be there and a great experience. Some guys play 10 years in the league and never go to the playoffs, so for me to go my first two years was a great experience. It's something that I'm going to learn, that if I get in the playoffs and play significant minutes, then I'll be ready. I've seen how poised guys are, what it takes and how hard you have to play.
CR: Much of your on-court success came in the D-League. How much did your time in the minors help you as a player?
Brackins: That's really what the D-League is for. I was sitting for a while and asked Philly if I could go down to play and get some minutes. They loved the idea, because who wants to sit and watch when you could go play? I went down there and it was a good experience. It was one of those things where I'd rather be working than sitting.
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