‘No one tells me I can’t do something’: Former Owl pursues NBA dream during COVID-19

Despite the NBA draft and NBA combine being delayed due to COVID-19, Nate Pierre-Louis doesn’t believe it will stop him from getting drafted.

Temple '20 alumnus Nate Pierre-Louis talks with men's basketball head coach Aaron McKie during the team's game against Houston at the Liacouras Center on Jan. 7. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Nate Pierre-Louis isn’t listening to those who say he won’t be drafted into the NBA. 

Pierre-Louis, the former Temple University men’s basketball guard, declared for the NBA Draft at the end of March and hired an agent on May 13, officially ending his NCAA eligibility to continue as an Owl, The Temple News reported. 

“I took a lot of time and thought about this process,” Pierre-Louis said. “The decision was based on every single option, and I went with a smart, safe option on trying to pursue my professional career.” 

The NBA draft this year isn’t until Nov. 18, so Pierre-Louis is taking time to improve his strength, mindset, shooting and foot work, he said.

“I’ve been going to the gym two to three times a day,” Pierre-Louis said. “I’m working out in the mornings and I go lifting again during the night time. I’m more focused on eating right, sleeping right so my mind is right, I’ve been really locked in on myself.” 

Last season, Pierre-Louis averaged 10.9 points per game but only shot 25.4 percent from three-point range and 39.6 percent from the field. 

The decision to leave Temple after his junior year was not an easy one, but the uncertainty of the men’s basketball schedule around the COVID-19 pandemic heavily influenced his decision, Pierre-Louis said. 

The American Athletic Conference will consider using a 20 game double round-robin league schedule for the upcoming season, College Hoops Today reported. A start date for the season has not been announced yet.

“I was not nervous, but concerned about what my college career was going to be,” Pierre-Louis said. “A lot of people told me you should wait until your senior year to make a decision, but there wasn’t going to be much of a senior year for me to play with.”

Although Pierre-Louis was “at peace” with his choice to leave Temple, he still had achievements he wanted to reach his senior season, like recording his 1,000th point and qualifying for the NCAA tournament, he added. 

The Owls’ head coach Aaron McKie isn’t surprised Pierre-Louis declared for the draft and believes his work ethic will make him stand out to NBA teams, he said.

McKie, who played in the NBA himself for 13 years, coached Pierre-Louis as an assistant coach for two seasons before taking over as the team’s head coach before the 2019-20 season. 

“I’ve never seen an athlete in all my years work as much as Nate did on his craft,” McKie said. “He would be in the gym three times a day, morning, afternoon, nights. He was wired that way to work. That’s something you respect on any level as a profession, whether it’s in the workforce, whether it’s in sports, people who tend to work will naturally have a higher success rate.” 

Temple’s acting Athletic Director and former men’s basketball coach Fran Dunphy served as Pierre-Louis’ head coach during the 2017-18 season and the 2018-19 season. 

Pierre-Louis credits Dunphy with teaching him to be a good teammate, he said. 

“Dunphy was a class act. He taught me basketball was not about you and always about the team first,” Pierre-Louis added. “Basketball is a brotherhood and to always put people first and results after.”

Pierre-Louis’ best opportunities to help an NBA team are through his defense and rebounding, Dunphy said. 

Last season, Pierre-Louis led the Owls with 8.5 rebounds per game and finished second on the team with 55 steals. 

“Whether it’s improving his shooting, honing in on his ball-handling or playmaking, he certainly can impact the game on a defensive end,” Dunphy said. “As a rebounder he’s pretty special, and he’s grown measurably.” 

During a normal year, Pierre-Louis could have already attended the NBA combine, an event for potential draftees to showcase their talent in front of NBA scouts, but the combine was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The last player from Temple to be drafted into the NBA was former forward Lavoy Allen in 2011. 

Pierre-Louis wanted an opportunity to play in front of NBA scouts but is still hopeful about his chances to be drafted, he said. 

“That’s all right, that’s God’s plan” Pierre-Louis added. 

“No one tells me I can’t do something, but myself,” Pierre- Louis said. “I don’t pay attention to the doubt but I do hear the doubt. However, I use it as fuel.”  

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