Miami Heat first round pick Bam Adebayo greeted students on the first day of school Monday morning at Jesse J. McCrary, Jr. Elementary School in Little Haiti with a plate full of scrambled eggs.
Meanwhile, undrafted rookie point guard Derrick Walton Jr., the first player in Heat history to sign a two-way contract, and undrafted shooting guard Matt Williams Jr., who shined with the Heat in Summer League action, handed out school supplies.
Community service work is part of the job when you play for the Heat. So, too, is putting in hard work during the off-season and all three Heat rookies have been doing so for weeks with veterans leading them.
Adebayo, 20, the projected backup center, has been working out closely with league leading rebounder Hassan Whiteside and 14-year veteran and captain Udonis Haslem.
“Welcoming,” Adebayo answered when asked what his Heat initiation has been like. “Just walking in, they took me in like I was one of their brothers for a long time. It’s easy going. I look up to UD, Hassan and them. They’re leading me in the right path.”
Haslem, 37, posted a photo on Instagram back on Aug. 3 of himself, Whiteside and Adebayo working out at the Heat’s facilities.
The caption read: “Why would I trip when I know [Bam Adebayo] and [Hassan Whiteside] got next???” Workday with the next generation and I can already see what time it is!!! I hope heat nation is as excited as I am.”
Adebayo said he’s not the least bit surprised Haslem’s workouts are intense.
“It’s not surprising because I watched the Miami Heat all the time when they won both championships with LeBron and even the one that they won with D-Wade by himself,” he said. “UD was on all of them. You just see all his hard work, diving on the floor, making the hard plays. It shows his passion for the game.”
With Willie Reed gone, Adebayo said he’s preparing himself mentally to be Whiteside’s backup.
“I always stay ready. I always prepare myself,” he said. “I’m just taking it bit by bit and just soaking all the information.”
Walton Jr., a standout at Michigan, spent the summer playing with the Orlando Magic where he averaged 10 points, 3.5 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 20.5 minutes in four games while shooting 47 percent from the field and 6-of-12 on three-pointers.
He was in position to land the third point guard spot on Orlando’s roster before the Magic opted to sign Shelvin Mack. Walton Jr. then signed a two-way deal with the Heat on July 24. He said interest was mutual.
“Just be ready, be a part of the organization, put my hard had on and go to work every day,” Walton Jr. said of the message the Heat gave him.
“Being able to learn and grow my entire rookie year is all I’m focused on. I’m in a unique situation but I’m in a unique situation as far as learning.”
Williams Jr., who set the UCF single-season record for three-pointers made (126) including 11 made threes in one game, is not under a two-way contract but his deal could be converted into one.
Two-way contracts were added under the new collective-bargaining agreement which took effect on July 1 and allow NBA teams to keep the rights to two players on their development league squads.
Williams Jr. was limited by an ankle injury at the start of summer league action with the Heat, but ended up playing in eight games where he averaged 9.9 points and shot 38 percent from the field and 39 percent from beyond the arc. His focus, whoever, is on proving he’s more than just a three-point shooter.
“I just want to go out and do what [Heat assistant and summer league] coach [Chris] Quinn asked me to do,” Williams Jr. said. “Shoot the ball when I’m open, play hard defense. Coaches had me working on my ball handling, working on my conditioning. [They want me to] make sure I’m able to put the ball on the floor, make sure I’m able to go to the basket, make sure I’m able to be a complete player.”
Williams Jr. said the offseason workouts with Heat veterans have been “pretty intense.”
“We do a lot of running, a lot of conditioning, a lot of shooting,” he said. “There’s a lot of basketball. In three or four weeks, I’ve learned a lot.”
▪ On Sunday, the Heat officially announced the signing of former Celtics power forward Jordan Mickey. As previously reported, Mickey was signed to a two-year minimum deal ($1.5 million) with a team option for the second season.