LAS VEGAS – Walking out of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ locker room, Carrick Felix doesn’t look like someone who just played 27 minutes against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Yes, he looks exhausted, but he’s wearing a white, Nike T-Shirt with “SUN DEVIL BASKETBALL” splashed across the chest.
“It’s all the gear I have right now,” he said, laughing.
That will likely change, especially if the former Sun Devil continues to produce as he has through the Cavaliers’ first three Summer League games.
Felix scored 14 points in a game one win over the Lakers, and then grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds in a game two victory over Memphis.
Overall, he is fourth on the team in scoring (8.3 points) and second in rebounding (6.7) while averaging 25 minutes a game.
The Cavaliers made the 6-foot-6 Felix, who led the Pac-12 last season with 13 double-doubles, the third pick of the second round, 33rd overall.
“Very surprised,” he said when he heard his name called on draft night. “I didn’t know I was going to get drafted that high, but I was ready for it. I was humbled about it and just excited to get going.
“I think my opportunity here is good. I just think I’ve just got to play within myself, just don’t get out of being Carrick Felix. The biggest thing is defense. With Mike Brown coming over and bringing a defensive mentality and obviously that’s something I’ve been doing for a long time. It just allows me just to, like I said, be myself.”
Felix, who turns 23 next month, is quite the story: A local kid (Goodyear Millennium High School) who played at the junior college level (College of Southern Idaho), became Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s first-ever JC signee, but ultimately landed back in the Valley at Arizona State.
“It’s been a grind, man. That’s it. That’s all I can say. It’s been a grind,” Felix said. “I’ve just got to keep working. I’ve just worked so hard to get to this spot, so I just got to keep working at it to stay here. Words can’t describe it. I’m blessed. I thank God. I thank my family. (The NBA) is a terrific opportunity.”
Along with head coach Herb Sendek, Felix credits ASU assistants Larry Greer and Eric Musselman — a pair of former NBA coaches — for molding him as a person and developing his game for this very moment.
“It definitely helped me a lot,” Felix said. “With those guys you’ll be able to learn anything at the college level just to prepare yourself for the NBA level. It’s helped me transition well.”
Still though, it’s taking some time for him to get used to the fact that when he’s not wearing a Sun Devil basketball T-shirt, he’s wearing a No. 30 Cavaliers uniform.
“I don’t think it’s hit me,” said Felix, who plans to visit ASU after summer league. “I’m still out here working, still staying humble and still knowing that I’ve got to earn it. I got to earn it. That’s the biggest thing with me right now.
“I think I’ll realize in a couple of months as the season goes on or maybe even a year later, but right now, no.”