You don’t see a lot of 7-footers in the Army, but Marshall Plumlee isn’t your average 7-footer. He’s a national champion and a potential draft pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft.
Still, how does that dichotomy work? Defending your country while also defending the paint?
“I’d always been passionate about the military and service, but I never thought it was something I could do because I thought it would ruin my chance of having a professional basketball career,” the 23-year-old Plumlee said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Basketball was my first passion. In my junior year of high school, I met a former player of Coach K’s at an Army base in Germany, and he said, ‘Marshall, if you really want this bad enough, I think you can find away where you can do both. You can pursue a professional career in the NBA, and the Army won’t hinder you at all. In fact, I think will help you.’ That’s exactly what’s happened. Now I get to pursue a pro basketball career in the NBA and serve through a reserve capacity with the Army. It’s a great win-win situation.”
Plumlee, whose brothers, Mason and Miles, also won national titles at Duke, didn’t play much for the Blue Devils during his first three seasons. In fact, he averaged 2.2 points in 2014-15.
That was a career-high.
“I don’t feel like any college experience is without its ups or downs,” Plumlee said. “I definitely had some low points, but now coming out the other side of it, I’m grateful for every experience I had, even the rough ones with the injury. I learned a lot, I grew a lot and I’m really proud that I stuck with it. I experienced some of the best things Duke has to offer.”
This past season, Duke experienced some of the best things Plumlee has to offer. The Indiana native averaged 8.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in nearly 31 minutes of action per game.
“I got to give a lot of credit to my coaching staff,” Plumlee said. “They never gave up on me and they kept working with me and they kept trying to push different buttons to bring out the best in me. And then also, I got to give credit to my teammates like Jahlil Okafor and Jabari Parker and my brothers. Even though it may not have been obvious on the court, I was improving tremendously getting to play against those guys every day in practice. I’d push them and they’d push me back. Those are probably the two biggest factors that led to me improving the way a lot of people saw me my senior year.”
Plumlee hopes to follow in his brothers’ footsteps and get drafted Thursday. Miles, 27, was taken 26th overall in 2012. Mason, 26, was taken 22nd overall in 2013.
“I think I’ve done everything I can to put myself in the best position to be drafted,” Plumlee said. “So much of it is out of your control, but I can sleep soundly and be confident knowing that I’ve done everything (I can). I’m fortunate and blessed with a great agency and some brothers who have been a tremendous resource, telling me the do’s and dont’s of this process. I’m really proud of my performances these last few weeks, giving my all to each team I’ve gotten to meet with.”