MAITLAND—Gerry McNamara had an illustrious four years while playing basketball at Syracuse University.
He earned first team All-Big East honors, set the all-time Big East record for 3-pointers made, and averaged more than 15 points and 4 assists per game in his collegiate career.
He also helped lead the Orangemen to the national title during his freshman season, scoring 18 points in the NCAA Tournament championship game against Kansas in 2003.
Unfortunately for McNamara, not everything has been quite as rosy after the NCAA title game. He did average 16 points and nearly six assists per game in his senior season at Syracuse, and was the Big East Tournament MVP last year after leading the Orange to the conference tourney title.
All of that, however, didn't lead to a big NBA payday. Just yet.
The NBA draft is all about athleticism and potential. For a 6-foot-2, 180-pound guard who played through his senior season at college, McNamara is lacking in both of the major categories of the NBA draft checklist.
After going unchosen in two rounds during last month's draft, his determination is unchanged.
"I think a lot of the draft is based on athleticism and how you look to the human eye, but I'm all about winning." said McNamara, who last week was vying for an NBA roster spot while playing with the Orlando Magic's summer-league team. "What happened to me in the draft happens to people every year."
McNamara knows that despite his past success in college, he is now facing an uphill battle to make an NBA roster.
"I just have to keep my head up and stay with it," says McNamara.
McNamara describes himself as, "a guy that wants to win, that brings high energy, that doesn't care about individual statistics as long as he wins."
His team-first attitude is what hoping will be what takes him to the next level.
"He's very dedicated, fiery, and wants to compete," said Magic assistant coach Tom Sterner, "He has the credentials that teams look for."
McNamara has also shown his ability to play big in the clutch. Just ask BYU, which saw him score 43 points in one NCAA Tournament game in 2004. Or Cincinnati, against whom his buzzer-beater in the Big East Tournament was one of the most talked-about shots in college last season.
"You just need to have the confidence when you're given that opportunity and knock down the big shot," he said.
There have been plenty of undersized players who have thrived in the NBA. Darrell Armstrong made a living off of hustling to loose balls. Steve Kerr earned his paycheck by knocking down 3-pointers. McNamara hopes to one day be on that list of players who overachieved.
"All I have to do is not worry about the things that surround me," he said. "I just need to go out and play hard and play the way I always have."
Brendan Sonnone is a senior at Dr. Phillips High School. His Sentinel mentor is reporter Buddy Collings.