For Chimezie Metu, Wednesday’s pre-draft workout with the Los Angeles Lakers doubled as a unique opportunity for the 2018 NBA Draft prospect to get an inside look at his favorite team. Metu attended high school a few miles from the Lakers practice facility, and spent three years at USC.
“I’m really, really grateful to be here right now,” Metu said after the workout. “I live 10 minutes from here. I’ve been a Laker fan my whole life, so it was a dream come true to come here and work out.
“Just being here is crazy to me. I’m probably going to have a lot more workouts but this is probably going to be my favorite one. The one I cherish a lot more, just because of the history.”
The workouts have been attended by Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson, general manager Rob Pelinka, head coach Luke Walton, assistant coaches and a slew of front office personnel.
“That was crazy,” Metu said of Johnson’s presence. “He’s been to a couple of our games but he just sat there. I’ve never been able to shake his hand and actually talk to him. It was pretty fun.”
Their interaction was brief and Johnson wasn’t overly involved in providing any sort of feedback or instruction. “He didn’t really say much,” Metu said. “He was sitting there, doing what Magic does. His presence is still there. It could still be felt.”
Metu, who averaged 15.7 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game, earned 2018 Pac-12 First Team honors and was an All-Defensive Team honorable mention selection. He finished third on USC’s all-time blocked shots list with 168.
“Wherever I end up, that’s something I can bring to the table. Just being a presence on defense,” Metu said. “I didn’t really get a chance to show that today but I think teams know I can bring that to the table.”
But with that, the 21-year-old believes there’s a skill set he has not yet been able to demonstrate. “I didn’t really get a chance to show I can guard people on the perimeter,” Metu said of his time with the Trojans.
“I’m going to try and show that in my team workouts and hopefully translate that to the next level.”