These days, every minute is scheduled, from the time Jaylen Nowell wakes up at 8 in the morning until he goes to bed at 10 at night.
Every jump shot is monitored. Every movement is measured. And every practice session is recorded and reviewed.
Heck, his trainers even had his blood analyzed to customize a meal plan for the 19-year-old fast-food fan, who says he happily ditched a diet of pizza, burgers and fries for ham-and-cheese omelets and protein smoothies.
“I’ve done these things in hopes to be a more efficient player,” said Nowell, who is preparing for workouts with NBA teams that will likely determine where he’ll land in the NBA draft on June 20.
Even though the Washington sophomore has until the NCAA’s deadline of May 29 to decide if he’s going to remain in the draft or return to school, Nowell has essentially closed the door on the Huskies.
“I’m really all in at this point,” he said. “I never go into anything half heartedly. That’s just how I’ve been as a person. When I said I was going to enter the draft, that’s what I meant and that was final.
“I really loved my time at UW. I loved being there. I loved being a part of the program and the fans letting me be a part of the program. They took a 17-year-old kid who was really just learning the game of basketball and really learning how to live on his own and really accepted him. For that, I want to say thank you. But I feel like this is my time to make that next jump.”
Since announcing his decision to turn pro March 31, Nowell signed with Ryan Davis of Rep 1 Sports.
During the past 2½ weeks, Nowell flew to Irvine, Calif., to train under the direction of Gavin MacMillan and Spencer Levy at Sport Science Lab, whose clientele includes NBA star Klay Thompson and NFL standout Carson Wentz.
The 12-hour days are filled with two basketball workouts, a training session, film study, massage therapy and interview training, which begins this week.
“It’s not too overwhelming,” Nowell said. “This is something that I dreamed of. Being in this process now is really something that I can say I was ready for.
“So the fact that I’m here and I get to do it, and this is all that I have to focus on is actually easier to me because I’m focused on something that I love to do. So it’s not really a job to me.”
When it ever gets to be too much, Nowell talks to his godbrother Gideon “Shay” Royale, who traveled to Southern California with him and reminds the former Garfield High star of just how far he has traveled – literally and figuratively – in a relatively short time.
“My big brother definitely is keeping me grounded through everything,” Nowell said. “Even those times when I get a bit hyped about the situation, he kind of keeps me at bay because he was there even before any of this was possible.”
Still, Nowell admits it’s a lot of work to prepare for what amounts to an eight-week interview process that’s fluid and wildly unpredictable.
Some NBA scouts are enamored with 6-foot-4 guard who won the Pac-12 player of the year award and who led Washington to the second round of the NCAA tournament while averaging 16.2 points and 5.3 rebounds.
“I’m not surprised he came out because really his platform can’t get any higher than where it is now,” said an Eastern Conference front-office executive. “He’s on our radar. … I like him. I really do. To my mind, he’s a Ben Gordon type. That’s probably his ceiling. An undersized 2 (guard) who can slide to the 1 if need be.”
Other draft evaluators aren’t sold on Nowell’s pro prospects.
“I thought another year at Washington, especially with the kids they have coming in, would have done him some good,” said a Western Conference scout. “Height could be an issue on defense. You wonder about his athleticism and other measurables like (wingspan) that teams are looking for.
“He can shoot it and score, but I just don’t know if he handles the ball well enough to run a team.”
Last season, Nowell took over primary ball-handling duties at times and tallied 3.1 assists and 2.9 turnovers – both team highs.
He also led the Huskies in field-goal attempts (434) while shooting 50.2 percent from the floor and 44.0 percent on three-pointers.
“I’m a combo guard,” he said. “I can do both. That is something that I felt is going to set me apart from a lot of players. Going into this process, I’m really excited to prove that to everyone that I can do both. That I can run the team and also score as well.”
Perhaps the biggest question about Nowell is his defensive ability.
He averaged 1.3 steals last season, but he spent his college career in the back of UW’s 2-3 zone and will need to prove he can defend opposing guards, particularly in pick-and-roll situations.
“Our approach is it’s almost like running a political campaign,” Davis said. “We want to convince some team that their vote should be for Jaylen and we’re confident that we’ll address that feedback that we’ve gotten and the feedback that we will get will result in Jaylen having a successful night on June 20th.”
NBAdraft.net projects Nowell as the 10th pick in the second round (No. 40 overall) while ESPN ranks him 87th among its top 100 draft hopefuls.
At this point, Nowell is more concerned about “getting better every day” rather than his spot in ever-changing mock drafts.
“I honestly don’t even think about that,” he said. “The work that I put in is going to speak for itself. I just feel like I have full confidence in myself with this process and I feel like whatever team that chooses to draft me is getting somebody who is going to be working hard and ultimately this is about the right fit for me as a professional.
“It doesn’t really matter where I go. It’s the fit and how I’m going to be used as a player in that system. That’s really what’s most important to me.”