Morehead's Faried says he's still adjusting to strength, speed of NBA

tlashbrook@herald-leader.comJune 13, 2013 

Undersize power forwards from small colleges aren't supposed to survive in the NBA, but former Morehead State University forward Kenneth Faried is defying the odds in his first two years in the league.

Faried was back in Morehead for the first time in a year and half this week to host his All-Star Basketball Camp. About 150 campers took part Thursday in the opening day of the two-day event.

On June 23, 2011, the Denver Nuggets selected the 6-foot-7 Faried with the No. 22 overall pick. Before him, players from prominent basketball programs — Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, UConn and Texas — were all selected.

On that night, Faried became the sixth player from Morehead State to be drafted by an NBA team and the first since Bob McCann was selected No. 32 overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in 1987.

Faried made a name for himself in his rookie year as an athletic, high-energy guy. He thrived on the glass, where he pulled down more than 12 rebounds a game per 36 minutes of action.

For his efforts, he was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team.

In his second year, Faried earned six more minutes a game and was a pivotal piece for a Denver team that won a franchise-high 57 games, including 15 in a row during a stretch from February to March.

Faried said he prepared himself well for the NBA but that players' "brute strength" just can't be simulated in workout situations.

"Everybody is strong. Everybody is quick, so you gotta bring it every night," Faried said.

On Feb. 16, Faried was selected as MVP of the Rising Stars Challenge at the NBA All-Star Weekend. He finished the game with 40 points and 10 rebounds on 18-for-22 shooting. He wowed the crowd with thunderous dunk after thunderous dunk.

Faried's up-tempo style helps him stand out in an All-Star setting as he has plenty of chances to grab offensive rebounds and get out in transition for easy buckets.

For him, that MVP trophy was one of the best moments of his early career.

"Getting the recognition of becoming a Rising Star and just being a part of that group of guys and that team, it was fun." Faried said. "It was different players from different teams coming together."

The past few months have been a little darker for Faried and the Nuggets.

On May 31, the NBA's Executive of the Year and Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri — the man who drafted Faried — left Denver to take the same position with the Toronto Raptors.

Less than a week later, the Nuggets' head coach and the NBA's Coach of the Year, George Karl, was fired before entering the final year of his contract.

Faried declined to comment on the situation.

But even in the worst of times, one can find happiness in basketball.

On Wednesday, USA Basketball announced the selection of 27 players to play at a mini-camp in Las Vegas from July 22-25.

Faried and his Nuggets teammate Ty Lawson were two of those 27.

The camp is designed to give USA Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff a chance to make evaluations for later USA Basketball rosters and camps.

Faried's success in the NBA has given current Morehead State head coach Sean Woods a boost in recruiting."He's the epitome of going through it, taking his time and playing for four years at a modest university and being an NBA star right now," Woods said.

Tyler Lashbrook: (859) 231-1447. Twitter: @lashy

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