A little more than a week ago, University of Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox texted Ramon Sessions and asked if his former point guard would be willing to come to Athens and watch his team workout.
Fox received a return text almost immediately.
“What time do you need me?’’
“Ramon cares about winning,’’ Fox said of Sessions who he recruited and coached at Nevada, where the Wolf Pack went 81-18 with Sessions at the point. “That’s what he’s about.
“If it means playing 35 minutes one night and 20 the next, that’s what he’ll do. If you go around the NBA, I don’t think you’ll find anyone that has a bad thing to say about Ramon.
“He gave $1 million to his alma mater and he’s never signed one of those $100 million NBA deals. Ramon has never forgotten who he is or where he comes from.’’
Sessions, 31, reportedly agreed to a one-year deal worth $2.3 million to join the Knicks. He’s averaged 10.6 points and 4.1 assists in his 10-year NBA career, mostly as a backup.
Ntilikina is just 19 and will have to adjust to a new country and a more physical style of play than he did in France. He averaged 5.2 points and 1.4 assists off the bench in 18.3 minutes of play for his Strasbourg IG team, which lost in the championship series of the French League.
Ntilikina played in the deciding Game 5, a 74-65 loss to Chalon, less than 24 hours after being drafted by the Knicks with the 8th pick. He took a 2:30 a.m. charter flight back to France.
Despite the jet lag, the emotional whirlwind of being drafted and doing almost two hours of media, Ntilikina scored nine points with two assists, two rebounds and one steal. At 6-foot-5, 190 pounds with a seven-foot wingspan, Ntilikina can develop into a special player.
Baker averaged 4.1 points and 2.1 assists in 16.5 minutes of play as a rookie. He really impressed the Knicks’ brass with his heady play, hustle and physical defense.
Sessions served as Kemba Walker’s backup last season in Charlotte, averaging 6.2 points and 2.6 assists. He played in just 50 games before having a meniscus tear in his left knee repaired.
Fox said Sessions told him the Knicks were where he wanted to land.
“He said he’s excited to have a chance to help them win,’’ Fox said. “We didn’t get into a lot about the team, but he said he feels he has a chance to add something with his experience and knowledge of the league.’’
When asked if he considered Sessions a high-IQ player, Fox said that was his strength.
“He’s got good size and strength for his position,’’ Fox said of the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Sessions. “He’s a good athlete. But he’s made it in the league because of his basketball IQ and desire to win.
“He sees things on the court and he’s able to take advantage of situations. He’s really good at working with his teammates and talking about what’s happening.’’
Sounds exactly like the kind of mentor the Knicks were looking for.