Tim Frazier said Thursday he leaned on his college experience to navigate the ups and downs of professional basketball.
During Frazier’s Penn State career, he went through a coaching change, developed into a first-team All-Big Ten player and missed a season due to injury, all of which prepared him as he worked to reach the NBA. He spent parts of two years in the D-League and signed 10-day contracts before finding some stability with the New Orleans Pelicans last summer.
Frazier reflected on his pro career Thursday night at the Penn State Golf Courses ahead of Friday’s Coaches vs. Cancer Golf Tournament.
“Look at me now,” Frazier said. “I know people wouldn’t have thought that — I was 145 pounds when I came to Penn State — that I’d be making it in the NBA playing for the Pelicans.”
Frazier is coming off his most productive season after averaging 7.1 points and 5.2 assists in 65 games for New Orleans. He said he spent his college career focused on reaching the NBA, but now, he’s trying to enjoy it. He’s not taking anything for granted — from workouts to meeting people — and it wasn’t lost on him that the NBA Finals started later Thursday night. He can watch the Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Golden State Warriors and say he’s played against the league’s best.
Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said Frazier’s perseverance on his way to landing a two-year deal with New Orleans serves as an example for his players.
“He is such a poster child for our program right now to show our young guys, our team, to believe and stay the course,” Chambers said. “It’s going to happen. Keep climbing; keep climbing. That’s what Tim did.”
With the current Nittany Lions on campus for summer session, they’ll have a chance to learn from former players like Frazier who are in town for the golf tournament. Frazier has yet to meet the young players on this Penn State team and added he looks forward to spending some time with them.
Chambers said he talks about Frazier with his team all the time, highlighting the ebbs and flows of his Penn State career — from his accomplishments to his season-ending Achilles injury. Frazier will now have the chance to share NBA stories and his message with the Nittany Lions.
“Don’t take it for granted,” Frazier said of his message. “Don’t take a day for granted because every day, every practice, every lift means something.”
It’s something Frazier is trying to keep in mind in his career.
After going undrafted upon finishing his Penn State career in 2014, the point guard earned both D-League MVP and Rookie of the Year honors in 2015. He also got his first taste of the NBA that season, playing a combined 11 games for the Philadelphia 76ers and Portland Trail Blazers. He then played a combined 51 games for Portland and New Orleans in 2015-16.
His stint with New Orleans started with a 10-day contract and resulted in a second contract for the remainder of the 2016 season. He started 35 games for the Pelicans this past season and said he grew up facing point guards like Golden State’s Stephen Curry, San Antonio’s Tony Parker and Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio.
“Going against Steph, going against Tony Parker, going against (Minnesota’s) Ricky Rubio, all different point guards,” Frazier said. “You got to be able to just grow up and be able to play, and it basically lets you know, man, if you’re ready for this opportunity. You never want to give away an opportunity, and I tried to take advantage of each one I had.”
Frazier left Penn State ready to work to reach the NBA and impressed his college coach with his hard-fought path to his current spot in New Orleans.
“He kept a great attitude; he kept plugging away,” Chambers said. “And he believes in himself. That is so huge to believe in yourself with the utmost confidence and having faith that I’m going to be successful and I’m going to get this done.”