San Antonio Spurs’ No. 9 draft pick Jeremy Sochan reveled in the pressure to perform for his NBA debut TONIGHT – as UK-raised rookie rivals warn at ‘EXCITES me’ scrutiny
San Antonio Spurs star acquisition Jeremy Sochan has downplayed the criticism he faces, dismissing it as exciting rather than pressure.
The 19-year-old attacker, who grew up until he was 15 in Milton Keynes, a city 80 kilometers northwest of London, will make his NBA debut tonight when the Spurs welcome the Charlotte Hornets to the AT&T Center.
The spotlight will be on Sochan after he was picked ninth overall in the June draft, but the six-foot-tall teen is enjoying the chance to get under the microscope on Gregg Popovich’s team.
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“I think there is definitely pressure, there will always be pressure,” he said on the Spurs media day ahead of the new season.
“The pressure turns me on and makes me do even more for British basketball and just for myself, so it’s more excitement than pressure.”
It’s rare for basketball players to leave the UK for the American dream and it’s even more unusual for those who do make it to the mark.
But the NBA hardwood is something Sochan has had his eye on since sacrificing other sports in England.
‘I used to play football too. Around 12-13 I decided to play basketball alone because it was contradictory,” he added.
“That’s when I really decided that this is what I want to do.
Sochan downplayed the control he is undergoing and brushed it off as exciting rather than pressure
‘It was difficult. Some people didn’t see it because it’s so hard to get out of the UK and go to the NBA, but I’ve always had the mentality that if I really want to, I can do it.
“Then I realized I can do something like that.”
Sochan has joined a franchise that is undergoing a revamp with the five-time NBA champions on the periphery since Tim Duncan’s retirement six years ago.
The Spurs’ last league title was in 2014 and Popovich’s team has failed to make the playoffs since 2020, while the New Orleans Pelicans knocked them out of the play-in tournament last season.
Sochan has joined a franchise undergoing remodeling under head coach Gregg Popovich (L)
Popovich, who according to Sochan is the greatest coach of all time, also doesn’t have much hope that there will be a sudden upswing in fortune in the 2022-23 season.
“I probably shouldn’t be saying this. Nobody here should go to Vegas and bet on this team to win the championship,” he told reporters last month.
Sochan didn’t elaborate on the team’s goals for the new campaign, but admitted he wants to “grow” as rebuilding continues.
When asked who he looks forward to playing with, he couldn’t pick anyone.
“It’s everyone, I don’t have one specific team or player. I play as hard as I can and try to win,” said Sochan.
The NBA has been warned. Sochan is hard on the paint.