A look into Cole Swider’s preparation ahead of the NBA draft

After only one season with Syracuse, Cole Swider decided to forgo his final season of NCAA eligibility and declare for the NBA draft. Swider finished the season second on the Orange with 13.9 points per game and first with 6.8 rebounds per game.

“It was a 50-50 decision, but after the season, I got some really good information from the NBA guys… it made it hard to turn down that option,” Swider told Cuse Sports Talk. “Coach Boeheim relayed that message to me of, ‘If you’re going to go make some money playing basketball, coming back would only be for what you want to accomplish in college, it wouldn’t be for your professional (career). ‘”

Swider’s best games came near the end of the 2021-22 season, which included a career-high 36 points from seven 3-pointers against North Carolina. He followed that up with 28 points against Florida State and 15 against Duke in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.

Now, Swider is preparing for the NBA draft, which will be held on June 23. His preparation includes playing in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament – an annual, four-day tournament for 64 of the top college seniors in front of NBA and overseas scouts. Swider’s shooting coach Tim Glover said that Swider’s invitation was “confirmation” of his decision of him to declare for the draft.

“It’s kind of a stepping stone and a thing for him to kind of see where he is compared to these other guys,” Glover said. “It’s a chance for scouts to get to see him play more and do some things that he’s capable of doing and some things that he’s been working on.”

The PIT featured plenty of familiar faces from the ACC, including Miami’s Charlie Moore, Virginia Tech’s Keve Aluma and Swider’s Syracuse teammate Jimmy Boeheim. In his first game at the PIT, Swider was named Player of the Game after scoring 18 points and grabbing nine rebounds. One thing that Swider has been working on is being more aggressive offensively and finding spots where teammates can set him up, Glover said.

Glover noted that stylistically, at both Villanova and Syracuse, Swider played with point guards who were ball-dominant and liked to score themselves rather than being pass-first. Swider’s experience at SU helped him identify some weaknesses, like getting to spots off the dribble and making mid-range shots, Glover said.

“Once he got to a spot, he could just rise up over people and shoot it,” Glover said about Swider’s Syracuse play. “That’s just going to get more and more available as he gets older and bigger and stronger and gets to that next step of playing against professionals.”

For Swider, a part of getting bigger and stronger is on the other side of the ball, too. But in preparation for the NBA draft, Swider has reduced his offseason workload compared to during the season, according to his strength by he coach Anthony Tingley. After the taxing college basketball season, Swider is using this time to rest before presumably playing another long basketball season, likely beginning with the NBA Summer League.

A lighter workload features more shooting rather than attacking the rim, Tingley said. It also focuses on managing minor aches and pains, especially in the ankle area after Swider rolled it early in the season. But the strength will also impact Swider’s defensive game, which is an area Tingley said they both know must improve.

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“We know that his defense is where he needs to improve, so just his first step, lateral quickness and reaction time,” Tingley said. “Now it’s just a matter of fine-tuning everything. Everything at the NBA level gets so specialized that you need to be really good at what it is that you’re bringing to the table. “

Tingley said that Swider’s time at SU helped him become better prepared to make the jump from Division I to the professional level, whether it’s in the NBA or elsewhere. At Villanova, Swider saw spare minutes, but at SU he was a regular part of its starting five, averaging around 35 minutes per game.

Even after the season, Swider still aims to have two or three workouts per day, whether it’s shooting or doing quick workouts in the gym, Tingley said. If Swider was allowed to, he’d be in the gym “nonstop,” he said. But at this point, the key is to manage the intensity of his workouts to avoid any injuries and allow his body to rest.

In the weeks leading up to the NBA draft, Swider has a chance to showcase his NBA potential to scouts. As Syracuse’s leading 3-point shooter this season, Swider brings a combination of size and accurate shooting that could translate well to the professional level.

“The way he finished off the year shooting the ball, I think it kind of opened up a lot of scouts’ and NBA people’s eyes that ‘Hey, this kid can put the ball in the basket when given the opportunity,'” Glover said .

Contact Gaurav: [email protected]

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